National Public Radio, that great national radio university, announced that voters in some states were unable to vote because some polling places ran short of ballots and envelopes. Voters waited outside polling places in freezing weather for their moment in the voting booth. Many waited patently while many were too cold and could wait no more. But worse still, many were stopped at the door after waiting for hours because ballots and ballot envelopes had run out. Why do we allow this?
Every mailbox in this nation is stuffed with junk mail every day. Nearly all of that goes directly into the trash. We accept or tolerate that situation.
We also tolerate denying voting rights to eager voters because we are afraid to waste a little more paper. We have to expect the waste of some paper ballots in order to preserve our votes. The assurance that every voter can vote is worth the cost of additional trash, and is a worthwhile and manageable risk. Our failure to print one ballot and provide one envelope for every registered voter in the nation is a silly false economy.
We should require federal law to mandate every state, district and county to protect the right of every voter by providing enough voting ‘stationary’ for everyone. We should assume and expect that some ballots and envelopes will remain to be recycled. No person or agency should be permitted to estimate or guess future voter turn-out based upon previous election figures.
Compared to the annual gross national paper junk-mail waste-stream, two additional sheets of paper per possible voter per election-year (recycled at that) is more than a fair trade and expense for the guarantee of our individual voting rights. This change would also put an end to one form of voter manipulation that is no less than a sub-rosa form of gerrymandering. This should become our next, or first, electoral reform. If this voter fairness requires government subsidy, so be it, no matter how poor, we all can afford to add it to our income tax. A penny for your thoughts.