Why Voting by Mail Sends Us All Forward
We have a right to vote safely, quickly and securely in our democracy.
By Jason | 9/3/20
Amidst the constant increase of coronavirus infections, mutations, and deaths, it is increasingly improbable that we will vote in person as the majority of voters have done in a normal election. The best alternative we have is to vote by mail. While some voters are tentative about this new form of democracy, it has consistently worked for many countries and US states over a period of hundreds of years. Contrary to the Republicans’ insistence that people will have their votes altered fraudulently through the mail, voting by mail has occurred without any significant signs of voter fraud. States all across America’s political spectrum, from Oregon to Utah, have employed voting by mail for all voters in federal elections, and levels of fraud higher than that of in-person voting have never occurred. In fact, the most recent American presidential election saw about 1 in 4 of its votes, or over 30 million, entered by mail. The election’s results, which numbered over 100 million in total, were all delivered and processed by election night. Rather than voter fraud, the one barrier which lies in front of voting in this election by mail is the president.
Recently, President Trump had a half-hour interview with Axios’s Jonathan Swan. Amidst a barrage of gaffes, the president stated America could not “go through a mail-in vote without massive cheating”. This statement is made by the same president who himself votes by mail, and whose party also accepted interference from Russia to propel him in his first election. The minimal voter fraud which, in Trump’s opinion, plagues our nation, is of a much lower magnitude than the foreign interference which set off the chaos of the last four years. While cheating by mail has yet to occur at a level higher than it has in person in any US election, cheating in other ways has never been as necessary in a recent election as it was for Trump.
Further, Trump has expressed his doubts about the USPS’s capability of processing such a magnitude of mail. While one quarter of voters already submit votes through the mail, which the USPS delivered efficiently, many Republicans, including the president, fear their chances in the election will decrease if voting by mail is to occur, and so they will often express doubts about the system’s potential in order to sway as many people as they can away from favoring a ballot in their house over the same one in a densely populated room. This is not enough for the president, who has gone so far as to try to defund the USPS and actually stated he may not accept the results of the election. Let us take a guess as to how confident he is about the results if he is already prepared not to accept them.
Unlike mail voter fraud, something does plague our nation: a second wave of the coronavirus has seen cases rise at a level unlike any other developed country. As large gatherings from South Dakota rallies to Georgia’s almost total reopening have occurred, infection has increased and new cases per day are higher in the US than they were in April. Over half of American voters polled—a true majority unlike that of the most recent election—responded that they would prefer to vote by mail as a result of the coronavirus. To allow a universal vote by mail would signal a transition to a future America where convenience and health for all voters are ensured. Many voters who are disabled or ill have difficulties traveling to a polling place, and mail has long served as an alternative which has given them representation in the democratic process. Now, every single person in the country takes a health risk by traveling to a location with other people. In an election where turnout is crucial, the majority of people simply would prefer to stay inside to decide on their next president. Though some, including our president, raised concerns on mailed votes’ correspondence to each and every voter, with features such as a streamlined process to receive a ballot in the mail and a personalized question, created months ago by a voter, which only that person can answer, the mailed vote is made as democratic as the one inside the ballot box.
Through mailed voting, we can also increase voter turnout: in a country where over a third of eligible voters simply do not vote, giving a ballot for each voter at their home may facilitate greater participation in the election. As Republicans have increased tactics to make the voting process confusing, thereby discouraging those in certain states from voting by mail, mailed ballots may allow for an effective wave of voters to counter their efforts.
In a world where all gatherings of politicians are either remote or with people such as the president and his staff who are truly quarantined in the White House bubble, it is made very simple that public health would worsen if the election were to take place in person. Nevertheless, the conservative fearmonger Trump fails to acknowledge the potential political benefits he could gain by initiating voting by mail. To place health over politics, an idea which has yet to occur to the president during this crisis, would signify a true love for the American people he says he cares about. To lower cases in the long term rather than reopening the day the data look slightly stronger than yesterday would help the economy he and his supporters use as a hook.
Unfortunately for Trump, Republicans are increasingly beginning to shift away from his modes of operation. Numerous Republicans, including former governors, have announced their decision to vote Democratic in the election, and as Biden seeks to unite moderate voters, he is gaining ground Democrats may not have had one month ago. While Biden is quickly gaining traction, Trump has difficulty pandering to more moderate or undecided conservatives. As every day sees the president further abdicate any responsibility for one of the greatest national health crises in our history, the probability that in-person voting becomes untenable and we all vote by mail get higher and higher.