Since the 2020 election, chaos and order have been the yin and yang in the battle for election integrity. One side routinely introduces electoral chaos into our fragile system, causing doubt and confusion. The other side strives to restore a bipartisan loss of confidence in the system. And in this battle between order and chaos, mail-in voting in particular has become a fierce focal point.
What did chaos look like in 2020? It looked like last-minute changes to the election process without corresponding increases in capacity, transparency, and security. It looked like piles of unprocessed ballots in Bucks County, Penn., days after the election. It looked like ballots arriving in Clarke County, Nevada days after the election and then being counted. It looked like cardboard over windows in Detroit, Michigan, where lawfully appointed observers were kept from observing absentee ballot processing.
It is hard to limit the impact of chaos; its very nature respects no bounds. However, it is possible to benefit from chaos. As a result, it is important to look at who benefits from introducing chaos into a system, especially something as fragile as our election process. So, while Republican and Democrat scholars and pundits alike worry about the unknown legal and political impact of unprecedented efforts to take former President Donald Trump off the ballot in Colorado and Maine, it would be wise to remember that last-minute uncertainty over ballot eligibility could also cause chaos to election administrators and disrupt voter behavior.
As a voter, imagine going into the voting booth, wondering if your vote will count if your candidate gets removed from a ballot by a partisan bureaucrat. Would you still vote for that candidate? Or would you vote for your second choice just in case? Perhaps the uncertainty would tempt you to stay home altogether. Or you may choose to stay home out of protest. Although Trump will remain physically on the ballot as an option in Colorado for the presidential primary, it is unclear how these challenges, and the resulting confusion, will impact the choices voters make.
And if these challenges inspire actions by other activist courts and partisan bureaucrats, we must wonder whether counties will be given adequate notice about whether Trump’s name can be physically printed on the ballot.
In every election, counties must meet deadlines to print, mail, and test ballots ahead of an election. Although it sounds simple enough, issues with printing ballots seem to be increasing. We see this clearly in the key state of Pennsylvania. Lancaster County, Pennsylvania has had ballot misprint issues in four elections over the last three years. Greene County, Pennsylvania notified voters in October of ballot misprints only to find additional misprints days later. During the last Pennsylvania municipal election alone “12 counties reported 16 errors, more than double the number of errors from any other election since 2019,” according to reporting by NPR.
If courts and administrators are not careful, challenges to President Trump’s ballot eligibility could lead to a new round of chaos that benefits the Left. Election administrators are having a hard enough time printing ballots correctly. Whether or not to include the leading candidate for one party should not be an issue they have to consider. If anything is being let out of this election, it should be last-minute Hail Mary legal strategies designed to disrupt the election process.