Considering the significance of the upcoming presidential election, combined with the potentially devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the Scribbler and Mrs. Scribbler decided this fall to vote by mail to avoid crowds anticipated at polling sites on election day.
After we applied for ballots by mail, the county office of Voter Registration and Elections sent several notices telling us when our ballots would arrive.
We waited in anticipation.
Meanwhile, the overburdened U.S. Postal Service announced it might not be able to handle the anticipated volume of mailed ballots; the president of the United States repeatedly predicted that massive voting by mail would produce massive fraud; and Republicans and Democrats all over the country argued about how best to collect and process mail-in ballots.
And then we read that the best way to make sure a ballot counts — if lawyers eventually question the validity of mail-in ballots in the courts — is to forget about the worst pandemic in a century and go stand with hundreds of other possibly viral voters on Nov. 3 at official polling places, where the legitimacy of a vote should be unassailable.
Well, that’s not for us. We trust the Postal Service.
Our ballots arrived together, in separate envelopes, on Oct. 6, and we decided to fill them out and cast them in a way that seems responsible and safe.
We were busy, so we did not actually mark the ballots until last Sunday morning. We met at the dining room table to carry out the most important duty of any citizen of the United States of America — eating a healthy breakfast of oatmeal, walnuts and raisins. Then we tackled voting.
We carefully read all directions. (How hard can this be?) We unfolded the ballots and filled in the squares beside the names of the candidates we wanted to elect to office. We sealed these ballots in “secrecy envelopes.”' Then we moved on to sign the voter declaration on the back of an outer envelope to mail to the elections office.
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout...
But there is no joy in our house — we filled the wrong ballots out.
When we received our ballots, we carefully separated them. So we knew — we knew! — we had the correct ballots as we signed the outer envelope. The Scribbler signed his name with his usual semi-intelligible fluidity. Mrs. Scribbler signed her name with considerably greater clarity. We added our addresses.
Then we looked at each other in dismay and distress.
The elections office had typed our names right below where our hand-written names and addresses now appeared. They did not match. Yes, indeed, we had signed each other’s ballots.
What a revolting development this is!
But, even in these days of widespread technological confusion, there is a simple solution. The Scribbler has contacted Randall Wenger, chief clerk of the county’s Board of Elections. He says we are hardly the first voters to mess up the process and, this far ahead of the election, the error can be fixed with ease.
So Wenger is mailing us new ballots and declaration envelopes. We will fill these out (after triple-checking to make sure we have not repeated our stupidity) and then cast our votes by mail. We will trash the spoiled ballots.
Happy ending! Is democracy great or what? Even ferhoodled electors can participate.
Jack Brubaker, retired from the LNP | LancasterOnline staff, writes “The Scribbler” column every Sunday. He welcomes comments and contributions at email@example.com.