Editorial: Mail-in voting gives Americans safer option this election year

An+illustration+created+by+graphic+designer+Mark+Chrissan+depicts+a+voting+sticker+on+a+mailbox.+COVID-19+has+caused+many+citizens+to+stay+at+home+instead+of+voting+in-person+this+year.+According+to+the+attached+ENO+Staff-endorsed+editorial%2C+%22mail-in+voting+is+the+most+effective+way+to+cast+votes+this+year+and+is+the+easiest+way+for+Americans+to+stay+safe+while+also+having+their+vote+acknowledged.%22

An illustration created by graphic designer Mark Chrissan depicts a voting sticker on a mailbox. COVID-19 has caused many citizens to stay at home instead of voting in-person this year. According to the attached ENO Staff-endorsed editorial, “mail-in voting is the most effective way to cast votes this year and is the easiest way for Americans to stay safe while also having their vote acknowledged.”

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It’s crucial that each person’s vote is accounted for, whether it’s going behind a curtain or putting a ballot in the mail. But due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, voting in-person has become a challenge for those with a higher risk of contracting the virus.

Mail-in voting is the most effective way to cast votes this year, and it is the easiest way for Americans to stay safe while also having their vote acknowledged. 

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As the number of COVID-19 cases escalates, those prone to infection are forced to quarantine and can’t make it to the polls. Regulations state that voters must be 65 years or older or suffering from illness in order to be eligible to vote by mail, which are two categories of people that are being impacted the most during the pandemic. Elders and those with a preexisting health condition prefer to stay in the comfort and safety of their own homes, and with mail-in voting, their voices can still be heard. Stopping the spread of the virus is one of our country’s top priorities, and by utilizing the option to vote by mail, people can protect not only their health but their fellow Americans’ health as well.

With an increased volume of mail-in ballots, it is assumed that some votes would get lost during the collection process. While this is true, and there is no guarantee that each ballot will be received in time for election day, statistics suggest that the probability of that happening depends on the state and the voter themself. According to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, in 2016, 1.8 percent of mail ballots were rejected in states that required an application to vote by mail due to late arrival or voter error. This percentage is minimal, especially compared to the amount of mail that goes through the U.S. Postal Service each day. The best thing a voter can do to minimize the risk of their ballot being rejected is to make sure they send in their application on time and check that their ballot meets all requirements in order to be accepted. 

Stopping the spread of the virus is one of our country’s top priorities, and by using the option to vote by mail, people can protect not only their health, but their fellow Americans’ health as well.”

— ENO Staff Editorial Opinion

Furthermore, in many states, depending on if they prioritize mail-in ballots as first-class or marketing mail, the postal service will pay for voters’ postage. COVID-19’s impact on the increase in mail-in voting has called for all states to move ballots to first-class mail so that votes can be accounted for in a timely manner, even though that would be more costly for the postal service. Despite these costs, many counties across the country are providing free postage to their at-home voters, which saves them the money that might have been lost due to COVID-19 complications in their families. 

Many voters are concerned with the recent remarks made by President Donald Trump, such as mail-in voting “substantially increases the risk of crime and voter fraud,” and controversies surrounding Trump supporter Louis DeJoy. DeJoy has been accused of removing USPS sorting machines and physical mailboxes and cutting work time, causing mail to be received late, which has put mail-in voters in a panic. Fact-checking websites later revealed that Trump’s statement was false and that security measures have been taken to assure that no postal service equipment has tampered with this election year. 

To ensure that a majority of mail-in votes are accepted and accounted for, voters must send in their request by the designated deadline set by the state, which is Oct. 23 for the state of Texas. Once their ballot is sent to them, voters must double-check for any mistakes that might cause their ballot to be rejected. Ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Nov. 3, so voters should send out their ballots today in order to avoid postal problems. Voting by mail relies heavily on the time management and organization of the voter, but if they follow the guidelines and meet the deadlines, they can be assured that their vote will be received. 

COVID-19 has been a major restriction to the way Americans vote this year, but it shouldn’t be the reason that they don’t vote. Mail-in voting is the best way for those affected by the pandemic to use their right to vote while also keeping America safe.