To save our United States, we must vote in the 2024 elections at all levels, from city council to president. There was the primary election on March 5 and the general election on Nov. 5. But how will we vote? The last election in 2020 was a crazy-quilt example of irregularities. 

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, to keep voters safe at home, voting was done by mail-in ballots. Hundreds of thousands of ballots were mailed and millions of dollars were spent to open them and check the signatures, and weeks were taken to read them and report the vote. 

To keep ballots safe from being stolen from postal boxes, new steel, armored boxes were built and placed for deposit of the mail-in ballots. Thirty boxes were placed around Santa Barbara County, costing millions of dollars and were still in place for the next election. The number of traditional polling places were reduced, and the qualification to get a ballot at the polls was minimal.

Now the pandemic is over and things look a lot better, but the state government liked this arrangement and has decided to keep it by incorporating mail-in ballots into state law, i.e., the Voters Choice Act, 3000.5 in the state code. Now all elections will be held using mail-in ballots. 

The state has also set up a special fund to pay for all this added expense needed for mail-in ballots called “the voting system replacement grant.” Our tax dollars. The county must mail 238,661 mail-in ballots for each election, plus the county information guide and sample ballot booklet, or 715,983 pieces of mail for each election.

Vote by mail is more expensive and takes longer to report results—and is subject to ballot harvesting and theft—than are the venerable local polling precincts. A large number of mail ballots are out of date due to delays in reviewing county voter registration lists. So millions are wasted on dead ballots. Voting by mail does not increase voter turnout as shown by the last election on March 5 where 100,160 votes were cast or 41.56 percent of the 238,661 registered voters. 

And there are fewer precincts now to make it more difficult to vote in person. What happened to the 138,500 mail-in ballots not used? At the precinct polls you sign next to your name in the book and your ballot is ready to be counted when you drop it in the box. No 30 remote drop boxes are needed. 

The voting system has been watered down. Reliable voting is what voting is all about. Voters have doubts, so low turnouts.

For better results: 1. You Must ID yourself and show that you are the one voting, your real ID. 2. You must appear at the precinct to vote unless you have requested an absentee ballot before vote day. 3. You must sign your name on the voter logbook, not on a wobbly computer screen, so your signature can be verified if necessary. 4. There must be voting only on vote day, between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. 5. Require update of registration files every two years.

Justin M. Ruhge

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