September 11, 2020
The Ballot Box vs. The Mail Box

The Ballot Box vs. The Mail Box

Voting is a time-honored tradition in American politics. Although elections are held every year, the stakes feel much higher when people get to vote for president. Every vote matters, no matter how that vote is cast. In just a few weeks, millions of Americans will begin to receive their absentee ballots for the 2020 general election. Shortly thereafter, many states will start early in-person voting, and in 53 days, Americans will head to the polls to cast their in-person ballots on Election Day.

This year is unique in American politics for many reasons. First, the very process of voting will be hotly contested at every possible juncture. Months ago, once the dust settled after the Democratic primaries, election lawyers immediately began descending on swing states to challenge long-held election laws put in place to protect the integrity of the vote. They argue COVID presents American voters with a unique threat, and in order to ensure Americans are able to cast their vote this year, we should remove safeguards on the mail-in voting process. But what do the American people think?

A recent poll looked closely at voters' attitudes about voting in the COVID era and made some startling discoveries. As many as six in 10 voters prefer to vote before Election Day, either by voting by mail or early in-person, and just 38 percent of voters prefer to vote in-person on Election Day. To put that in perspective, those numbers are almost the inverse of how voters preferred to cast their votes in 2016 -- with 41 percent saying they cast their vote before Election Day, and 58 percent saying they voted on Election Day. With more Americans planning to vote early this year, it's worth looking at how mail-in voting has worked out recently.

Mail-in voting largely relies on the U.S. Postal Service to deliver your ballot securely to your polling location. Before your ballot can be tabulated on Election Day, it changes hands multiple times. First, the postal worker collects your ballot and transports your ballot, then the post office organizes and sorts your ballot for delivery, and finally another postal worker delivers your ballot to the polling location. So before your ballot is even tabulated, it has to securely exchange hands multiple times.

Earlier this summer, there were so many discounted ballots -- thousands -- and other irregularities, in a municipal election in Paterson, NJ that a judge has ordered that a new election be scheduled. In fact, four people have been charged with unauthorized possession of ballots, tampering with public records, and falsifying or tampering with records. Other reports show mail-in ballots were improperly delivered by a postal worker who just left a box of mail-in ballots in the lobby of an apartment building instead of placing them in individual mail boxes. Some voters in Paterson claim to never have received their ballot in the first place.

Columnist and author John Fund recently spoke with Tony Perkins on "Washington Watch" about this issue and shared an experiment CBS and NBC did recently to test the U.S. Postal Services' capacity to handle mail-in voting. CBS sent 100 mock mail-in ballots through the postal service, and after one week they checked the to see if they had reached their destination. Not one of their mock ballots had been delivered! They then went back to the post office to see if maybe they were there, and not even half (41 out of the 100) were being stored in the back of the post office. Fifty-nine were still missing. After three weeks, the post office could account for 97 out of the 100. Three weeks! With less than two months left in the 2020 election, this sort of mismanagement can cause widespread confusion and anger, especially since Americans expect to know who the president will be for the next four years on the night of the election.

In most states, there are three different ways you can vote: Vote in-person early, vote in-person on Election Day, or vote by mail. If your state offers in-person early voting, that is a great option to consider. Voting in this manner ensures that you've handled your ballot yourself and if an emergency comes up Election Day, you're fine because your vote has been cast already. Voting in-person on Election Day also affords the benefit of knowing you've been the one handling your ballot. If you or a loved one are not able to vote in-person, then by all means, still vote by mail. The worst form of voting is to not cast a ballot at all. If you are voting by mail, you can often drop your ballot off at a drop-box at your local precinct designed to collect mail-in ballots. If you need to mail it back, put it in the mail early so that it has ample time to be delivered.

For more information on how to vote, and other educational resources related to the election, check out! Share this resource on your social media pages, with your friends, family, and neighbors, and let's make sure our votes count!