The recent COVID-19 pandemic has been turning people to vote by mail from the traditional in-person voting system.
Right now, with the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the country, a lot of citizens are scared just to go to the grocery store. So with one of the most important elections in years just weeks away, many are turning to vote-by-mail. However, can states that don’t have the infrastructure for mail voting make the change, or will this election season go down as one the most chaotic in American history?
What are our options to vote by mail?
Not every state has a vote-by-mail option. States like Texas, Virginia, and Arkansas have not done anything to change their voting systems during the pandemic, where many inside, in-person businesses are still shut down. However, can we look to a small group of states that exclusively vote by mail? Washington, Oregon, and Colorado are the only states that have been doing every election by mail for some years now.
You can vie the deadline to request a vote by mail by clicking here.
Oregon switched in the 1990s, Washington and Colorado switched to vote by mail in the early 2010s. A report by American Politics Research in 2000 wrote “In the most widely cited result on the turnout effects of voting by mail, Southwell and Burchett report that Oregon’s system increased turnout by 10 percentage points” (Gronke, Miller).
Maybe more states should make the switch, considering more people seem to vote. Can a state like Mississippi, that has a no-excuse voting system, make the vote accessible in the coronavirus pandemic? How do we send 146 million mail-in ballots to every eligible voter? These are some questions the American people need answers to.
Election Day is Set in Stone, Mr. Trump
With the election inching closer and states clamoring not only for money and resources due to coronavirus but also clamoring for ideas to get people out to vote in a safe manner.
President Trump now wants to push off the election, citing unfounded claims about voter fraud with mail-in-voting, and also stating in the same tweet that absentee voting is okay (many states consider absentee votes and mail-in-votes the same).
Will Americans get to vote in a safe manner or will some states use this opportunity to suppress the vote? Because one thing is clear: any delay to our election will be seen as just another failing of our democracy and a detriment to our Republic.
And to be perfectly honest, our Republic cannot stand if its people can’t vote. Voting is important as like as registering to vote. State governments and Congress have a constitutional responsibility to make sure that the vote is available to every eligible voter in the country.
The General Election has not changed in almost 200 years, since 1845. The Constitution gives the ultimate power to Congress to change the day or delay the general election. So really what President Trump is talking about is something that he cannot do, even if he wanted to, and Congress has no desire to make any changes to Election Day.
Different States, Different Voting
Now, some states have been slowly expanding vote-by-mail, like California. In the Golden State, they have the option of both vote-in-person and mail-in voting, however, there have been some problems in the past. Because of the lack of infrastructure, mail-in votes are usually the last to be counted, with election results taking days to be accurate.
This can cause some discontent about the voting process, however, California’s elections are almost always accurate and resolved. This is in stark contrast to a state like Florida, where their process is plagued by recounts and long voting lines. Look at the 2000 Presidential Election, it came down to single votes in one county and the Supreme Court had to become involved.
Where is the Light at the End of the Tunnel?
The coronavirus pandemic, while horrible itself, has brought light to many problems plaguing our country, including how we vote. Hopefully, state governments around the country start to make changes to their system, moving away from vote-in-person, which again in the current climate makes no sense, to a system of mail-in voting.
This nation will be forever changed by the COVID-19 Pandemic, and the people need to make these changes positive, otherwise, the Republic will not last. So with all the doom and gloom, who do we turn to? Who has an efficient system of which people can mail-in vote with confidence? The namesake of our first president, Washington State.
They say Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was Washington’s mail-in voting system. But really they have thought of everything, they have drop boxes, you can mail in your ballot, you can track your ballot, the ballot counters match the signature of the ballot to the signature in their system to reduce voter fraud, they have increased voter participation.
Really, what is stopping state governments from making the change? Money and control. No state government wants to fork out the millions of dollars it would take to make such a drastic change to their election process. Also, having the elections vote-in-person, in my view, allows governments more control over the process.
Are States Doing Enough?
Take Louisville, Kentucky. This is a city of over 600,000 people, and it only has one polling station. One. And Kentucky is a no-excuse voting state, meaning if you aren’t there to vote, you don’t get to vote. During the June 23rd primary this year, people waited for hours, all day, and never got to vote.
How can we call ourselves a democracy when its people can’t vote? How can we allow a state to limit polling stations, and further than that how can we allow states to no allow mail-in ballots? Granted the state government did allow early voting this year and allowed absentee voting due to the pandemic, but did they do enough? I don’t think so.
Lincoln’s Ballot Bullet
In conclusion, confidence in our elections is paramount to a healthy democracy. Right now, it is one of the most pressing matters during this pandemic. Our government, from the federal down to our local, must make the vote more accessible and safe for its people. Let us remember that this government is for the people and by the people and that constitutional obligation must always be fulfilled. Abraham Lincoln said it best, “The ballot is stronger than the bullet.”
What does he mean by this? That our way of life, our vote, is the most important part of our Republic, and it can shape the world. Creating a vote-by-mail system will make our government and our Republic that much stronger, and I feel that it is a responsibility that most institutions have shied away from for economic reasons. However dear reader, this is not an excuse when our military budget is over 900 billion dollars this year, which many would say is necessary but I happen to disagree.
The Republic’s Obligation to the Constitution
Voting affects the very core of our life, and the government cannot expect the people to but their lives and their family’s lives in danger just to carry out the most basic function of a democratic society when there is another option. Here to mention that Pennsylvania vote by mail system is a timely response to the current situation. Some other states are also trying to implement the system.
To me, there is no excuse that will ever placate me into believing that they can’t. When Americans come together to fight the good fight, we can defeat the very evil that threatens our way of life and the ideals of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. Give the people the resources to perpetuate the ideals of which so many have died for, give the people the safest option to vote instead of hindering the people.
Fulfill the obligations of which you swore to uphold, and give us vote-by-mail so that we can choose our nation’s future in the midst of these trying times, and in midst of the greatest health crisis in a century. There may be no-excuse voting states, but again there is no excuse for the state governments to withhold a vital option for the people who need it. Give us the coronavirus pandemic’s saving grace.
Eli is a Political Data Scientist with over thirty years of experience in Data Engineering, Analytics, and Digital Marketing. Eli uses his expertise to give the latest information and distinctive analysis on US Political News, US Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, and Racial Justice equipping readers with the inequivalent knowledge.