7 Important Facts You Should Know About Mail-In Voting

Some people would very much like you to believe that there is something inherently wrong with mail in voting. They want you to believe it so hard that you’ll be willing to delay, cancel or just outright forget about having an election in November at all. The reasons for this seem obvious to some, but many aren’t sure what to believe. We ran down a few indisputable facts about mail-in voting that everyone should be aware of before they decide where to come down on this one.

Mail-in Voting and Absentee Ballots are Effectively the Same Thing

This is one for which the waters are being muddied right out of the gate. There’s simply no difference between a mail-in-vote and the absentee ballot you may have cast because you were going to be on vacation on election day or because you’re a brave member of our armed forces serving overseas. The ballots that will be used this year in an election that – I can’t believe I’m saying this in this country – must be protected at all costs are the the same that we have used in previous elections for this purpose. The difference with requesting citizens to vote by mail is that states will send ballots to registered voters instead of requiring the voter to request an absentee ballot. Everything else is identical.

State by state the rules on how to apply or receive a ballot are different, but there is always a process and only registered voters are issued ballots. Find out your state’s deadlines and application process for yourself or even get registered so you can be heard this November.

The U.S. Military has Utilized Mail-in Voting Since the Civil War

The fact is that the U.S. military has utilized mail-in voting since the Civil War, when Abraham Lincoln wanted soldiers to be able to vote (Republican) from the battlefield. The irony of the Democrats being the ones screaming about widespread voter fraud that never materialized at the time is as thick as the people who swallow the outrageous lie. Over the ensuing 150 years the disingenuous “debate” over mail-in voting leading to voter fraud would be brought up again and again by both sides, but the claim is easily disproved.

In truth, Early and absentee voting has been steadily on the rise over the last few decades as well. This graph from the U.S. Census Bureau, which I found in an excellent M.I.T. article, clearly shows the rise of alternate methods of voting and the decline of in-person election day voting since the early 1990s.

mail-in voting

Every State in the Union Allows and Provides Secure Functional Mail-in Voting Systems Already

This infrastructure is not new, every state allows some form of alternate voting. Since California started the trend in the early 1980s, 27 states no longer require an excuse for a voter to receive an absentee ballot, it’s simply a matter of choice and convenience. The remaining states provide absentee ballots for reasons ranging from vacations to work shifts to child care and many other common issues.

mail-in voting
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures


Colorado, Hawaii, Utah, Oregon and Washington Vote Entirely by Mail Already

Five states, a full 10% of the nation, already vote entirely by mail. Each of these states sends a ballot to every registered voter, the voters make their choice and send their ballots back to be tabulated. There have been no reports of rampant voter fraud in these elections. Voters receive their ballots well ahead of time and voters can still return their ballots in person on election day, protecting the spirit and tradition of in-person polling. The ability to create a “Voting Period” instead of a single day on which people have to cast their ballots is a critical piece of this as well, it simply allows more citizens to exercise their right to participate in the process.

If Voter Fraud Were an MLB DFS Player It Would be Chris Davis and You Wouldn’t Roster It

Oregon’s election officials have posted statistics indicating that they have mailed over 100,000,000 ballots since the program began in 2000. Of those hundred million ballots Oregon has prosecuted 12 cases of voter fraud. That’s a 0.000012% rate. A study done by Dr. Justin Levitt, a former Department of Justice official and Director of National Voter Protection revealed that in over one billion votes studied only 31 allegations of voter fraud could be found. That’s not proven cases and convictions, that’s simply allegations, at a .000000031% rate. In 2017 the Brennan Center for Justice, a non-partisan law and public policy group, released a statistic saying that the general expectation for risk of voting fraud via any means is 0.00004% to 0.0009%.

Even the strongly right-leaning Heritage Foundation can’t make the math on this one work, their website is set up to make each case look fearsome and threatening to the fabric of our democracy, but when you consider the actual numbers in their database it’s simply a ludicrous claim. They report just 143 convictions involving fraudulent use of absentee ballots over the past 20 years, which would represent 0.00006% of the votes cast. This is simply not a consideration.

More People Can and Will Vote

This is perhaps the fear. If we make it easier for every citizen to cast their vote and make their voice heard we would see a dramatic shift in the makeup of this country. The idea of forcing people to the polls in person on one specific day was absurd in a normal year, to expect it of people during a public health crisis involving an extremely infectious disease is asinine. The fact is, convenience should have been built into this system long ago. Voting should take place over the course of a week. Traditional election days should be national holidays. Every citizen should be allowed to exercise their right to vote independent of pressure or the deliberate attempts at voter suppression we see happening in minority communities across the country.

In a nation that saw only around 34% voter turnout in the last election, anything we can do to help citizens cast their ballots should be considered. There are multiple secure pathways to doing this, voting by mail possibly the leading among them. Paper ballots cannot be hacked. The system has multiple fail-safes in place and undergoes the same scrutiny as an in-person vote. When Colorado implemented their mail-in voting system they saw an immediate nine percent increase in ballots cast. Turnouts in smaller regional municipal elections are demonstrably better when mail-in voting is used as well. An election in Rockville, MD last November saw nearly double the turnout from 2015 after the introduction of mail-in voting.

There’s simply no valid argument one can make for not letting Americans vote that isn’t immediately selfishly transparent. What other reason than losing power could there be for not wanting millions of votes to be cast?

This one is a real concern, here’s a prominent Republican saying the quiet part out loud about what increased voter turnout would do to their chances of re-election and why “you’d never have a Republican win an election in this country again.”

It’s Going to be Long, Loud and Messy

Things unfortunately are looking ugly for the prospects of a clean election in November. Between the lack of preparation in several swing states to the chaos still reigning from the combination of Covid-19 and social unrest across our country to the deliberate attempts at casting doubt on the process by those in power, the success or failure of this election could tell the tale of the end of the experiment that has been the American republic. Regardless of the outcome, chaos will reign. If you remember the 2000 election and the protracted process of counting and re-counting and disputing ballots in Florida – a fight that would eventually be decided in the Supreme Court – keep in mind that was just with one swing state in question. We could have more than ten identical situations simultaneously.

Fighting through tough times and prevailing while still waving the flag of freedom and democracy is supposed to be what we’re good at in this country. I don’t care which side you cast your vote for (this is a lie) but I do care that you vote. Make sure to register, make sure to set yourself up to be able to safely cast your ballot by whatever means you can.

It will be incumbent on all of us as citizens to participate in, respect, and accept the results of, the political process this November. Our republic is held together not by our government, but by the collective will of this nation’s citizens to follow a rule of law, respect the outcome of elections and fundamentally accept that there is truth behind the process. If we lose that, we are truly lost.

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