Count all ballots on Election Day

Voters in California‘s 16th Congressional District, which includes the cities of Palo Alto, Los Gatos, and Half Moon Bay, went to the polls on March 5 to choose a successor to retiring Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA). Not until nearly two months later, on May 2, were the top two vote-getters in the jungle primary identified. They will now face each other in the general election this November.

Two months is far too long to count votes, and this is not the first time California has taken an inordinate time to finalize a result. Delays breed doubt and conspiracy without the compensation of increased accuracy.

Voter confidence in election results requires that we get rid of election month and return to Election Day. Many states are wisely doing this.

Last week, Georgia enacted a law, its latest voting reform, requiring all early and absentee ballots to be counted within an hour of polls closing on Election Day. Like most of Georgia’s other reforms, this is wise. The public knows voter fraud can be real and can be decisive. As is well established even by the liberal New York Times, mail-in voting is more susceptible to fraud than in-person voting because the chain of custody is less secure.

The public knows this. Even with safeguards in place, citizens’ doubts about integrity rise if ballots, especially ones that arrive by mail, are not counted for hours or days after polls close. More than 1.3 million Georgians voted early in 2020, and it took more than three days after polls closed for all ballots to be counted, and another week for results to be certified.

One reason it was easy for former President Donald Trump to convince tens of millions of supporters that the 2020 election was stolen is that he led in early vote counts in several states, including Georgia, only to be caught by Biden in late-counted absentee ballots. In all those instances, subsequent analyses made clear there weren’t enough anomalies for Trump to have won, but that has not eliminated doubts among Trump supporters.

As both the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot and polls on the matter three years later demonstrate, massive voter distrust in election integrity is a serious threat to the proper workings of our constitutional system.

If votes are counted in a timely manner, the public doesn’t get the idea that fraudulent ballots are being manufactured in back rooms. There is no time or opportunity for that to happen. Ballot integrity, real and perceived, benefits accordingly.

Despite caterwauling from the usual leftist suspects, timely absentee vote counting is neither an administrative burden nor an impediment to voters’ rights. Florida requires absentee votes to be tabulated as they come in, beginning 22 days before Election Day. As a result, Florida, for several consecutive elections, has been able to announce undisputed — repeat, undisputed — results within hours of polls closing. If Florida can do that with nearly 11 million voters in 2020, Georgia, with fewer than 5 million voters, could also have done so.

Why can’t every state do the same? In election cycle after election cycle, some states, mostly in the West, dawdle for days or weeks before finishing their vote counts. California takes more than a month, by design, to tabulate votes. In a primary election not decided until earlier this month, it took California two months to determine the winner.

The problem isn’t merely with public confidence: Slow vote counting can have more concrete effects. Partisan control of the House and the Senate can remain undetermined for weeks, making it difficult for Congress to organize itself for its next session. What if slow counts leave control of Congress up in the air when a presidential election is also being disputed? What if Congress is in organizational turmoil when the mandatory Jan. 6 presidential electoral vote count is scheduled? The consequences could be severe.


States also should adopt other practices that help timely reporting of election results, such as discouraging same-day registration, maintaining eligible voter lists, and training poll workers better.

When the Left fights against commonsense election integrity measures, it is no surprise that millions of people suspect foul play.

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