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In an election year like no other before in American history, the country must pursue as prompt and credible a vote count as possible with unprecedented determination. This is doubly true since a principal method for enabling citizens to cast votes safely amid a pandemic—mail-in and absentee voting, on a large scale—poses major logistical challenges. And rather than lend support, budgetary and moral, to that effort, the president of the United States has sought to discredit it. President Donald Trump may well seize upon slow or incomplete vote counts as an excuse to claim fraud, or to refuse to accept valid results, with potentially disastrous consequences.

It thus is very much in the national interest for states to have the ability to prepare the avalanche of mailed-in ballots for counting prior to Election Day, so that they can get a head start on the count. The good news, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, is that 34 states allow some form of pre-processing: checking voter signatures, opening envelopes, preparing ballots for insertion in counting machines and, in some places, counting them as well. This includes most of the so-called battleground states, whose electoral votes will likely decide the outcome.

The burden, both political and moral, is on those who would balk at common-sense measures to facilitate full enfranchisement of the voting public, as well as a quick and clean count of their ballots.

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