With the start of the new year, the idea has been put forth that we should/need to begin voting by mail instead of going to our local polling place to cast our ballots. According to congressional records -
The absentee voting amendment process began when the House passed HR 26 in 1929. In 1931, the House and Senate passed HJR 159, followed by voter approval in 1932.
So the concept is nothing new and yet has gone through many changes and interpretations over the years. Most recently, due to the COVID19 pandemic and states and political operatives expressing a great amount of fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD), voting by mail once again comes to the forefront.
Overall, the process appears to be painless and convenient for those who choose to vote this way. You request a ballot from your local polling place clerk. The ballot is mailed to you. You fill out the ballot in the comfort of your home and then return the ballot by mail. Nothing could be simpler?
Much of the sudden push and pursuit to have an all mail-in type of voting system can be seen in the following headlines –
More voting by mail would make the 2020 election safer for our health. But it comes with risks of its own.
Counting on coronavirus luck is not a fall election strategy. Best bet is vote by mail.
Vote by Mail Isn't Perfect. But It's Essential in a Pandemic
All three articles are counting upon the United States to continue to be in the semi-lockdown status as we have been in many states since sometime in March of 2020. There are no models or current data that show this will be the case come November 3, 2020. With the stay at home orders expiring in nine states this past week and another 14 states removing or modifying business restrictions, why continue with the fear, uncertainty, and doubt, (FUD) for the next 178 days?
According to Priscilla Southwell, a Political scientist at the University of Oregon, writing in The Atlantic, calls this The Moral Urgency of Voting by Mail. Many who promote this idea point to the recent spring elections here in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin spring election went on as planned in spite of court cases and the extensive weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, of how could we vote at a polling place when we all are going to die.
Looking back, now nearly three weeks later on the election, it was orderly and in spite of a few idiosyncrasies was completed without a major upheaval. There were no biblical fire and brimstone admonitions simply because we voted at our respective polling places. There was also no reported massive uptick of related COVID19 positive cases due to the voting.
There are many states that are choosing to err on the side of caution and promoting the universal need for voting by mail for the residents of their states. While voting by mail does offer a sense of pandemic safety, it also comes with the downside of additional legal challenges to the entire voting process.
Voting by mail brings with it a plethora of things to go wrong with the entire process. Historically there are more challenges to election races when there are mail-in ballots in the mix. There is a certain satisfaction of voting in person. You’re greeted by neighbors when you sign in to vote. If you have questions or there is an issue with the voting process, it can be resolved right then and there in the polling place. One only has to look back to the 2016 Presidential election where according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission millions of mail ballots were never counted as completed votes for their respective candidate.
The thought of turning over our most sacred responsibility of voting, to the United States Postal Service makes one cringe. There is also the issue of not up to date and inaccurate voter registration lists of which those of us in Wisconsin are all too familiar with.
Let’s keep voting at our local polling place. It’s the right thing to do.