I recently had the opportunity to visit Virginia to see our new grandchild, Archer Grant, who was born a couple of weeks ago. While in the Commonwealth, the Mother of Presidents, a couple of my Virginia friends brought something interesting to my attention.

I had written several weeks ago that mail-in voting could be an accountability issue. This trip proved that fact.

My wife and I received more than one mail-in voting ballot at our old Virginia residence. Now that I’m a Kentucky resident, I had to shred them. One of the friends I was speaking about told me this week that he had received three mail-in ballots. He told me he was afraid to toss them because he was afraid someone would retrieve them from the garbage and he could get into trouble for fraud. Could Virginia, or any state for that matter, have caught it if someone else had cast his ballots?

I would hope so; however, I can’t say 100% for sure. Maybe you can trust the process, but not me. Make no mistake, it could happen, and he also shredded his ballots.

The ‘what ifs’ would haunt me if I was running for public office and the process was as loose as it is in some cases. Let me clarify that I believe absentee ballots are secure, in my opinion. I’ve done it many times over the years.

My second friend’s situation is the one that’s the most bizarre to me. He showed me a ballot sent to his wife. The name, address, everything was correct. The problem with the mail-in ballot? His wife passed away 16 years ago.

So you can’t tell me that if the state of Virginia doesn’t know she passed away, they know NOT to count her vote. Again, many may argue that the voting process would catch the ghost vote. I seriously doubt it. If she’s still on a voter role somewhere, then I would tend to believe if a dishonest person got that ballot and sent it in, it could be counted.

Notice that nowhere in this column have you seen a particular party implicated, and you won’t. I will say the voter registration procedure needs work in Kentucky. I’ve asked a few coworkers if they knew the process for registering to vote and they were surprised when I told them the answer.

You have to fill out a card in person or forms online, but you don’t have to present documentation to prove who you are. According to electky.gov, to register to vote, you must:

• Be a U.S. citizen and a Kentucky resident for at least 28 days before the election.

• Non-U.S. citizens, including U.S. nationals do not qualify.

• Be at least 18 years old by the next General Election.

• Kentucky law allows qualified individuals to register at 17 years of age and be able to participate in a Primary Election if the individual will be 18 years old by the General Election.

• Not be a convicted felon, or else have had your civil rights restored.

• Not have been adjudged mentally incompetent and had voting rights removed.

• Not claim the right to vote outside Kentucky.

You do have to have a social security number and include your birth date. Of course, committing fraud is no laughing matter and the law would prosecute. But, people steal identities all the time and registering by taking a person’s word doesn’t seem that secure to me.

There are several things you can’t do without photo identification. You can’t rent a vehicle, open a bank account or rent a hotel room, just to mention a few processes that require a photo I.D. It’s harder to get married than to vote for a candidate that can change our entire living structure.

Think about it for a minute. Voting is a serious obligation and shouldn’t be taken so lightly, and by all means make sure you do. I’ve seen local elections decided by a handful of votes, and those elected officials affect you.

Mike Davis is publisher of the Murray Ledger & Times. He may be reached at mdavis@murrayledger.com.

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