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Mail-in voting is the best solution we have

Mail-in voting is the best solution we have

Mail-in voting is the best solution we have

by Antonio Locantore

I’ve been reading with mild enthusiasm about the upcoming referendum in Italy, and with more emotion about how some people think just how flawed the voting system by correspondence is for those of us voting from abroad. Recent articles written in print and more so online on various social pages and editorials are brazen with emotion and fervor about how “upset” we should be about “The farce of the vote for Italians abroad”.

These articles and stories show how easily the voting ballots can be tampered with, or just not counted and replaced by other voting ballots. Some say that since there is no official stamp on the ballot after voting was done, then it is “just plain paper” that has no constitutional protection. Others say that since the ballot is placed in a plain white envelope, we are to “hope” that those at the consulate that receive the ballots are “trustworthy” in that they don’t just throw the ballots out, envelope and all, and just send to Italy their own ballots in plain white envelopes. Who would know? In one Facebook video at least someone offered a “solution” to this voting “farce”. That was to do away with the ballots altogether and have the voting done online. Really, as if online information could not be tampered with. LOL.

There are a number of ways that an Italian living abroad can vote in an election, I will list a few off the top of my head: 1) go back to Italy and cast your ballot in the traditional way, 2) have a friend or relative in Italy go and cast your ballot for you, 3) go to your local consulate or embassy to cast the ballot, 4) cast your ballot by telephone interview with a live person or an automated service, 5) Vote by internet, 6) have an Italian Elections Official come to your home, set up a ballot box, collect and stamp the ballot onsite, or 7) send in the ballot by carrier pigeon directly to Italy.

Some of these options, although doable, are just not practical; I don’t think that Italians living in Woodbridge, let alone Wawa would eagerly come to Beverly Street in downtown Toronto to do their civic duty. Nor do I think Italy has the money or manpower required to send officials to collect ballots directly from the millions of Italians living all around the world. The other solutions are there for completion purposes.

Voting by Internet has been talked about for some time now, but has not been full adopted for 2 glaring reasons: 1) it would be impossible to verify that the person voting is in fact the person that is supposed to vote and 2) the internet is still not secure enough from hackers, despite some millennials that routinely use the internet for most of their purchases, bill payments, friendships and romances state otherwise, my office IT guy says that it isn’t. I trust my IT guy.

The fact that some people bring into question the trustworthiness of the officials at the consulates is irritating. If they question what happens at the consulates, then they may as well have reservations and doubts about the entire electoral process and the people that run it, even within Italy itself. These are your typical conspiracy theorists that will never be satisfied unless their person wins. I recall Mr. Trump stating that if he didn’t win then the election was rigged.

In line with this, I noted that all of the people that I noted who had reservations about the mail-in voting system, wanted a “No” vote for this referendum. Just a curiosity, what if the No vote wins, what then will they say about the mail-in system?

It is of note that Canada, the United States and every other country that allows for abroad voting, uses a very similar system of blank envelopes and mail-in ballots that the Italian government uses for voting. I haven’t heard those voters complaining.

In conclusion, I think that Winston Churchill said it best, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” In this case we can substitute “Mail-in voting” for “Democracy”.

(Wednesday 30 November 2016)

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