Tell Us Again… Why Was Mail-in Voting So Important?

In-person voting on Election Day presented unique health risks for our states’ electorates, we were told. So much so, in fact, that many states went to extraordinary lengths to minimize, or even eliminate, such voting. Therefore, consider the examples of three such states – one red state (Florida), one purple state (Pennsylvania), and one blue state (New Jersey). Let’s examine the degree of mail-in balloting that occurred in each state, and the subsequent results of new cases of COVID-19 in those states since the election.

In-person voting was held in both Florida and Pennsylvania, but both states offered  mail-in voting that required voters to request such ballots. Out of just under 11 million total votes cast in Florida, 1.3 million were mail-in ballots, meaning that approximately 88% of Florida voters cast their ballots in person. In Pennsylvania, mail-in voting was significantly higher, likely due in large part to the extensive effort by many Pennsylvania politicians, particularly Democrats, encouraging citizens to opt for the mail-in method of voting. As a result, Pennsylvania had over 2.6 million mail-in votes cast (double that of Florida) out of a total of 6.8 million ballots that have been counted, meaning there were only 61% of voters that voted in-person in the state.

In New Jersey, meanwhile, there were virtually no in-person votes cast. The only ballots available were mail-in ballots, and every registered voter was sent a ballot unsolicited. Voters had the option of putting those ballots in the mail; bringing them directly to strategically located, secured drop-boxes throughout their county; or dropping them off at their normal polling station on Election Day. The only exceptions in New Jersey were visually-impaired voters, who were the only voters allowed to vote in person. Virtually all of New Jersey’s 4.2 million votes were mail-in ballots.

So, what happened to new cases of COVID-19 in each of those three states after Election Day? Surely, there must have been outsized spikes of COVID-19 cases in Florida, slightly less in Pennsylvania, and significantly less in New Jersey, right? Actually, the reverse happened.

In Florida, there was an increase in COVID-19 cases, but it was relatively moderate compared to New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Using the last week of October as a baseline, Florida saw a 23.8% increase in new cases the following week -- when the election occurred -- and then a jump to 30.8% for second week in November, which was last week. In Pennsylvania, however, where over a third of votes were mailed in, they saw a sharper increase.

Pennsylvania’s number of new cases jumped by 17.7% for the week ending 11/7/20, but then skyrocketed last week, with new cases up a whopping 51.4%.

In New Jersey, the rise has been more steady. New cases in the Garden State jumped by 30.1% for the first week of November, and then last week new cases surged all the way up to 50.1%. New Jersey voted almost exclusively by mail.

Daily New COVID-19 Cases by State (data source www.Worldometers.info effective 11/15/20)

No doubt various other factors are in play. Depending on the state, new cases of coronavirus could have been on the rise earlier in October, resulting in a natural progression of increases. Perhaps folks in various regions of each state behaved differently during the period, which resulted in a rise in infections. Or maybe local or state laws not related to voting had been recently relaxed. Fair enough. But that is, after all, the whole point. COVID-19 is a virus, and the cause-and-effect we see isn’t always easily explained or predicted. But we were told that the prospects of in-person voting were so dire, the health dangers so intense, that we needed to dramatically alter the most revered process of our democracy to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Doing anything less could result in Americans dying. Therefore, compared to other states, shouldn’t we have seen a decrease, or at least a lower increase in cases in New Jersey, which took the drastic step of eliminating virtually all in-person voting? With the virus’ incubation period of 2-14 days, how is it possible that Pennsylvania saw such drastic increases in new cases compared to Florida, when a much higher percentage of Pennsylvanians stayed away from in-person polling?

There have been major and obvious concerns with mass mail-in balloting for years. President Trump voiced concerns about the process for weeks leading up to the election, along with many other Republicans. But Democrats have also voiced apprehensions about the idea. In 2004, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) stressed that “Paper ballots are extremely susceptible to fraud.” Just this past August, Hillary Clinton urged, “If you’re going to vote by mail… take a picture of your ballot.” But if there’s nothing wrong with mail-in voting, why would anyone need to take a picture? For those who didn’t take pictures, is it possible that their votes weren’t counted?

The effort to shift from in-person voting to mail-in voting was never about protecting citizens from COVID-19.  In April, Wisconsin conducted their primary elections with virtually no mail-in voting and over 400,000 folks voted in-person. COVID-19 cases actually declined in the following weeks. People can vote safely in person by following the masking and social-distancing guidelines; this fact has been obvious for months. It worked in Wisconsin, and it apparently worked in Florida two weeks ago. What was the motivation then, of the discouragement, and in some cases prohibition of in-person voting? Was it done so that government officials could appear prudent and concerned in the eyes of their constituents? Maybe. Was it done for more nefarious reasons, perhaps to facilitate voter fraud? We don’t know for sure, and we may never know. But it is certainly a fair question to ask, and one to which we should demand answers.

P.F. Whalen is a conservative blogger at TheBlueStateConservative.com.  His work has appeared in multiple publications, including American Thinker, the Western Journal, and Human Events.  Follow him on Parler @PFWhalen, and on Twitter at @pf_whalen.

In-person voting on Election Day presented unique health risks for our states’ electorates, we were told. So much so, in fact, that many states went to extraordinary lengths to minimize, or even eliminate, such voting. Therefore, consider the examples of three such states – one red state (Florida), one purple state (Pennsylvania), and one blue state (New Jersey). Let’s examine the degree of mail-in balloting that occurred in each state, and the subsequent results of new cases of COVID-19 in those states since the election.

In-person voting was held in both Florida and Pennsylvania, but both states offered  mail-in voting that required voters to request such ballots. Out of just under 11 million total votes cast in Florida, 1.3 million were mail-in ballots, meaning that approximately 88% of Florida voters cast their ballots in person. In Pennsylvania, mail-in voting was significantly higher, likely due in large part to the extensive effort by many Pennsylvania politicians, particularly Democrats, encouraging citizens to opt for the mail-in method of voting. As a result, Pennsylvania had over 2.6 million mail-in votes cast (double that of Florida) out of a total of 6.8 million ballots that have been counted, meaning there were only 61% of voters that voted in-person in the state.

In New Jersey, meanwhile, there were virtually no in-person votes cast. The only ballots available were mail-in ballots, and every registered voter was sent a ballot unsolicited. Voters had the option of putting those ballots in the mail; bringing them directly to strategically located, secured drop-boxes throughout their county; or dropping them off at their normal polling station on Election Day. The only exceptions in New Jersey were visually-impaired voters, who were the only voters allowed to vote in person. Virtually all of New Jersey’s 4.2 million votes were mail-in ballots.

So, what happened to new cases of COVID-19 in each of those three states after Election Day? Surely, there must have been outsized spikes of COVID-19 cases in Florida, slightly less in Pennsylvania, and significantly less in New Jersey, right? Actually, the reverse happened.

In Florida, there was an increase in COVID-19 cases, but it was relatively moderate compared to New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Using the last week of October as a baseline, Florida saw a 23.8% increase in new cases the following week -- when the election occurred -- and then a jump to 30.8% for second week in November, which was last week. In Pennsylvania, however, where over a third of votes were mailed in, they saw a sharper increase.

Pennsylvania’s number of new cases jumped by 17.7% for the week ending 11/7/20, but then skyrocketed last week, with new cases up a whopping 51.4%.

In New Jersey, the rise has been more steady. New cases in the Garden State jumped by 30.1% for the first week of November, and then last week new cases surged all the way up to 50.1%. New Jersey voted almost exclusively by mail.

Daily New COVID-19 Cases by State (data source www.Worldometers.info effective 11/15/20)

No doubt various other factors are in play. Depending on the state, new cases of coronavirus could have been on the rise earlier in October, resulting in a natural progression of increases. Perhaps folks in various regions of each state behaved differently during the period, which resulted in a rise in infections. Or maybe local or state laws not related to voting had been recently relaxed. Fair enough. But that is, after all, the whole point. COVID-19 is a virus, and the cause-and-effect we see isn’t always easily explained or predicted. But we were told that the prospects of in-person voting were so dire, the health dangers so intense, that we needed to dramatically alter the most revered process of our democracy to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Doing anything less could result in Americans dying. Therefore, compared to other states, shouldn’t we have seen a decrease, or at least a lower increase in cases in New Jersey, which took the drastic step of eliminating virtually all in-person voting? With the virus’ incubation period of 2-14 days, how is it possible that Pennsylvania saw such drastic increases in new cases compared to Florida, when a much higher percentage of Pennsylvanians stayed away from in-person polling?

There have been major and obvious concerns with mass mail-in balloting for years. President Trump voiced concerns about the process for weeks leading up to the election, along with many other Republicans. But Democrats have also voiced apprehensions about the idea. In 2004, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) stressed that “Paper ballots are extremely susceptible to fraud.” Just this past August, Hillary Clinton urged, “If you’re going to vote by mail… take a picture of your ballot.” But if there’s nothing wrong with mail-in voting, why would anyone need to take a picture? For those who didn’t take pictures, is it possible that their votes weren’t counted?

The effort to shift from in-person voting to mail-in voting was never about protecting citizens from COVID-19.  In April, Wisconsin conducted their primary elections with virtually no mail-in voting and over 400,000 folks voted in-person. COVID-19 cases actually declined in the following weeks. People can vote safely in person by following the masking and social-distancing guidelines; this fact has been obvious for months. It worked in Wisconsin, and it apparently worked in Florida two weeks ago. What was the motivation then, of the discouragement, and in some cases prohibition of in-person voting? Was it done so that government officials could appear prudent and concerned in the eyes of their constituents? Maybe. Was it done for more nefarious reasons, perhaps to facilitate voter fraud? We don’t know for sure, and we may never know. But it is certainly a fair question to ask, and one to which we should demand answers.

P.F. Whalen is a conservative blogger at TheBlueStateConservative.com.  His work has appeared in multiple publications, including American Thinker, the Western Journal, and Human Events.  Follow him on Parler @PFWhalen, and on Twitter at @pf_whalen.