Opinion: Absentee ballots no substitute for mail-ins

Jan 30, 2023

Jan. 29, 2023

To the Editor: 

In response to Opinion: Ending mail-ins will not suppress vote: 

Absentee voting (five excuses) and early voting by mail (no excuse) are not the same and they are not interchangeable. Legislation to create a new “uniform” mail-in voting applications may be coming, but it’s not here yet. 

State legal counsel has stated that absentee ballots are limited to registered voters who have at least one of five specific excuses not to vote at the polls on Election Day. These qualifications do not apply to early voting by mail — no excuse is necessary for that.

Voters who submit absentee ballots can be challenged for not being qualified to vote absentee, which can carry criminal penalties. Wareham deserves no-excuse early voting by mail.

The labor involved for our local election officials is very similar for both types of ballots. 

At the Board of Selectmen’s Jan. 17 meeting, it was unclear why having an abundance of absentee ballot applications is reason to use them for clearly unintended purposes. Select Board Member Alan Slavin stated the anticipated costs for printing early voting applications are already budgeted.

Mr. Slavin also mentioned that he saw no vote by mail fraud in Wareham elections. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, “the USPS delivers each ballot to the voter securely, and all states have a method for tracking who receives a mail-in ballot. Mail-in ballots leave a paper trail and the process of counting them can be audited to ensure checks and balances.” 

Voting by mail helps to advance equal access to the ballot, and the more people that vote, the better.   

Sandy Cormier