Vote By Mail System: A Primer

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Election Day Is November 3rd, 2020 - How Do You Plan To Vote?

A. Madiraju, Staff Writer

Get ready to cast your ballots for the 2020 presidential elections, but this time around the states are still reeling with the effects of the coronavirus, including North Carolina. Although the option of voting in-person is available, people are expected to be voting by mail to prevent furthermore spread of the virus. This election day will be unlike any other.

 In 2020, a record of 76% of American voters will be eligible to receive a ballot and vote-by-mail. The concept of vote-by-mail is very straightforward. First, the voter has to register to vote. To do this, the voter writes, calls, or goes online to request an absentee ballot from their local election authority. The deadline to request a ballot by mail is October 27th, 2020. Then, you receive your mail, cast your vote at the comfort of your home, and mail it back in time for the election. Election officials will check your vote with a series of checks, and will contact you if there’s misinformation and etc. 

The idea of mail-by-vote is very straightforward, but there’s controversy behind it. There are pros and cons to this system, especially when all of America is relying on it.

 

Here are some of the benefits:

 Increased Voter Turnout: A Utah study showed that voting by mail can increase voter turnout. The long lines from voting in-person can cause frustration, especially with a global pandemic and the precautions taking place. Voting by mail reduces the frustration of waiting in long lines as you are filling out your ballot at the comfort of your own home.

They are convenient: The vote by mail is convenient. It takes little time out of someone’s day to fill out a ballot at home. Voters can also send in their ballots days or even weeks ahead if voting on election day is inconvenient.

Keeps voters safe in the middle of a pandemic: House speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks out about voting, “You shouldn’t have to choose between your health and your ability to cast your ballot.” Vote by mail means that voters can stay away from voting places and stay home, reducing infection chances.

 

There is controversy about the vote by mail system. Here are a few potential issues: 

 

Fraud: Our president constantly speaks out about fraud. Even though instances have occurred, it is very very rare. According to the New York Times, “Studies have found few credible allegations of fraud in past elections, and a commission that Mr. Trump had charged with investigating election corruption found no real evidence of fraud before he disbanded it.”

States may not be able to handle what is to come: There are states that have been using mail-in system and have spent years preparing, while some states are new to this system and shifting quickly to a surge of mail-in ballots. Election officials will need to be trained on how to use and count ballots and states that are shifting will have to design, print, and send out millions of ballots.

May benefit one party: Trump claims that the vote by mail will benefit the Democratic party. According to a study by Stanford, while voting by mail increases voter turnout it does not have an effect on increasing votes for one party more than the other.

 

The wide use of mail ballots shows how substantially the election environment has changed in recent years and how this election will be unlike any other.