Law Review: Mail-in (absentee) ballots hotly contested |

Law Review: Mail-in (absentee) ballots hotly contested

Jim Porter

“There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mailboxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged and even illegally printed out and fraudulently signed.”

That, my friends, was your president, lying or providing misinformation again for the 16,000+ time according to The Washington Post.

In fact, the president, who easily qualifies as a serial liar, led Twitter for the first time ever to add a disclaimer to one of Mr. Trump’s declarations, calling his claims of voter fraud “unsubstantiated.” That tweet (plus others by Trump) calling voting by mail “a scam” that will lead to “the greatest Rigged Election in history,” another Twitter “unsubstantiated” disclaimer.

In response, our beloved president violated Twitter’s free speech rights by trying to enact laws against Twitter for calling a liar a liar. Good luck with that.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, absentee or mail ballots “are as secure or more secure than traditional methods of voting.”

At that point Trump’s personal attorney, U.S. Attorney General William Barr, jumped in, writing a New York Times magazine piece saying that mail-voting is ripe for fraud. Barr’s comments have been routinely criticized.


Voting by mail goes back to the Civil War, when soldiers were given the opportunity to vote from the battlefield. States began expanding absentee voting laws in the late 1800s to accommodate voters who were away from home or sick on Election Day. Ballots, of course, are mailed to our overseas military.

In 2016 and 2018, approximately 25% of U.S. voters cast ballots by mail. Some states conduct elections only by mail with absentee ballots.

In Placer County, any registered voter can apply to receive a vote-by-mail ballot by calling the Elections Office at 530-886-5650, completing a vote-by-mail application or submitting a written request up to seven days prior to an election.

In Nevada County, all registered voters receive a vote-by-mail ballot each election but can still vote in person if they choose to do so.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, absentee or mail ballots “are as secure or more secure than traditional methods of voting.”

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, mail-in ballots are a safer way to vote than traditional voting booths.

Some Republican legislatures support liberalizing and adopting mail-in-ballot procedures which puts them in the unenviable position of contradicting the beloved President, who as you have all read, himself voted by mail in his newly adopted hometown in Mar-a-Lago, Florida. By doing so, he told us what is good for us is not good for him.


I have never understood why some legislatures, mostly Republican-led in recent years, pass laws to make it more difficult to vote. Those impediments come in all fashions, like early registration deadlines, purging of voter rolls if a voter does not vote for one year, requiring difficult indicia of proof of residency to vote (knowing poor people don’t always have a driver’s license or the ability to document their status.). Republicans have enacted new voting restrictions in 25 states.

And then there is the long-standing, corrupt practice of redrawing boundaries, gerrymandering, done by Republicans and Democrats, to protect incumbents and affect voting outcomes. This practice was remarkably endorsed by the five conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justices as being a state’s rights matter. In other words, ask the states to stop their gerrymandering … the very states that adopted artificial, gerrymandered voting districts. Don’t get me started.

All in all, with the pandemic, we will see a surge in absentee voting, and rightly so. In Wisconsin, during the April primary vote, at least three dozen voters tested positive for COVID-19 after the in-person election mandated by Wisconsin’s Republican-dominated Supreme Court.

It would be nice if everything were less political and voting by mail was evaluated on its merits and not on the politics. But for the time being that escapes us.

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada, with offices in Truckee and Tahoe City, California, and Reno, Nevada. Jim’s practice areas include: real estate, development, construction, business, HOA’s, contracts, personal injury, accidents, mediation and other transactional matters. He may be reached at or

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