• Krystal Thompson

A Change in Voting Methods

With the most recent election, tensions were at their peak. Given the Coronavirus was still running rampant across America, voters were in fear for their safety. To avoid unnecessary encounters with the pandemic still plaguing their nation, voters searched for ways they could stay safe while voting. These methods primarily consisted of absentee ballots and voting on the days leading up to the election.

Absentee ballots, commonly known as mail in ballots, are a means of submitting one’s vote via the mail or by dropping them off at designated locations. Voters had to apply for an absentee ballot in the days or weeks prior to Election Day so that they might receive it in time to submit their vote. While many states typically require voters to have a valid excuse when applying for a mail in ballot, the requirements have slackened immensely this year. However, using the pandemic as a reason not to vote in person does not work in every state, Texas included.

While U.S. voter fraud is extremely rare across voting methods, it is not unheard of. Official ballot boxes are secure and reliable, but there are other issues that may occur. For instance, in 2020 the California Republican Party placed over 50 unauthorized ballot boxes that are near identical to the government’s official drop off boxes. The secretary of state, Alex Padilla, sent a cease-and-desist order forcing the state’s Republican parties to remove these misleading boxes, and he encouraged the citizens of California to sign up for the state’s voter tracking website to guarantee that their ballot was counted. These pseudo-ballot boxes are not only found in California, so voters must check with their local election’s office to find the location of their city’s official submission boxes.

Rather than the interference of a political party, there are problems that commonly transpire for the voters when filling out their own absentee ballots. The most frequent mistakes that occur include not using a blue or black pen on their ballot, forgetting to sign the ballot’s envelope, signing a different signature than what one’s state has on file and sending back too late. In the 2016 presidential election, 318,000 mail in ballots ended up getting rejected due to these seemingly insignificant mistakes.

Voting early is also a safer way to elect the next president. The early voting period typically lasts anywhere from two weeks to nearly two months depending on the state government. Not only has this been proven to reduce wait times on Election Day, it also has the potential to increase voter turnout. By giving registered voters time to place their vote when it is most convenient for them, it reduces the pressure of arriving at the polls on one specific day.

To lessen the concerns for going voting the day of the election, Congress has put hundreds of millions of dollars toward voting during the pandemic. Much of this funding is being used for cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment for voting sites and poll workers. Regardless of these precautions, it is imperative that voters wear a mask and practice social distancing at the polls.

No matter which way people chose to vote, the important thing is they ensured safety for not only themselves but the people around them. With the next presidential election not for another four years, it begs the question of whether or not the popularity of these methods will carry on into state and local elections.

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