How to Protect Our Elections for All
Well, the choice is clear: We have to have mail-in ballots.
The country is too sick, too scared to go out and is actually being forced to stay home. If we want a free and fair election, we have to have mail-in ballots. It’s the only way to keep everyone safe in today’s society.
We are facing a novel virus with the potential - and likelihood - of killing anywhere between 100,000 to 240,000 people this year. It’s dangerous. It’s serious, and we can’t have people standing in line for hours just to cast their vote.
Americans shouldn’t have to choose between voting and their health.
Right now, only five states in the United States have All-Mail elections. Some states have partial Vote-by-Mail systems, where some elections can be by mail - such as School Jurisdictions or other local elections, but only five have full All-Mail elections.
This needs to change. There is no real disadvantage to not having vote-by-mail, other than simply Voter Suppression.
Don’t take it from me, take it from the President himself. President Donald Trump said on “Fox & Friends” on Monday during a segment about the Democrats pushing Vote-by-Mail, same-day registration and early voting, “The things they had in there were crazy,” said Mr. Trump. “They had things, levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”
Now, most Republicans simply hide behind Voter ID laws and say it’s supposed to help our elections and protect against voter fraud - which is extremely rare. But Mr. Trump said it out loud, Republicans can’t win if more people go vote. Even in cases of Mail-in ballots, voter fraud is extremely low. But those cases that are real weren’t even done by Democrats, but Republicans like Mark Harris in North Carolina, who declared victory in North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District after his staff committed fraud by illegally finishing absentee ballots.
So we need to put provisions in place that allow for the Vote-by-Mail system to be reliable, safe and fast.
“Mail-based voting systems today are far less risky than most polling place elections, precisely because they distribute ballots (and electoral risk) in such a decentralized way,” writes Phil Keisling, Oregon’s former Secretary of State and the person who implemented the Vote-by-Mail system in the state. “To have any reasonable chance of success, an organized effort to defraud a mail-based system and its safeguards must involve hundreds (if not thousands) of separate acts, all of them individual felonies, that must both occur and go undetected to have any chance of success.”
Vote-by-Mail is also much cheaper for the country. According to Real Clear Politics, “VAH [Vote at Home] also saves states money they’d otherwise spend on voting machines and polling place rentals, though some states may pay a one-time cost to acquire paper ballot reading machines. Net, however, jurisdictions save about $6 per voter - $29 million for Orange County, Calif., in 2020.”
COVID-19 has most certainly made voting and the integrity of the 2020 elections more uncertain, so now we not only have to worry about election interference from Russia but we also now have to worry about it domestically. It’s going to be a major issue if millions of Americans are too afraid to cast their votes due to the fear of contracting the virus.
Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) - who has been pushing for Vote-by-Mail since 2010 - have introduced the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act of 2020. The Act would expand early in-person voting, absentee vote-by-mail would be introduced in all 50 states and would reimburse states being forced to enact the extraneous measures necessary to adhere to these changes during this pandemic.
Vote-by-Mail isn’t going to happen immediately. It’s going to take time and an immense amount of preparation throughout the country. “You can’t just wave a magic wand and have this happen,” said Michael McDonald, a political science professor at the University of Florida who studies voting. “If we want to do this for the November elections, we need to start making preparations now.”
And we do. We have to have Vote-by-Mail to make it easier for people to vote. This shouldn’t have come because of a pandemic, we should have had Vote-by-Mail in every state anyways. But now is just as good a time as any to get these measures in place. We shouldn’t let another COVID-19 bill go out of the chambers of Congress without the provisions of Vote-by-Mail.
This isn’t simply about helping people vote in this upcoming election, but it’s simply humane. It’s a right to vote and if that right is taken away, we cannot have a functioning democracy.