COVID-19 has made many changes to the world that will continue to affect us in the future. With the fear of crowds in public places and worrying about gathering and spreading the virus heightening, it makes sense there are concerns about whether people should vote in person. A solution to this is mail-in or absentee voting.
The issue of mail-in voting is one that has become partisan, when it really should not be. Concerns about fraud can be mitigated and mail-in voting could provide a straightforward way to satisfy people’s needs created by COVID-19.
To start with the first claim mentioned above, it does not need to be a serious fear. Considering the time between now and when the elections in November begin, there is time to get an infrastructure that diminishes even the already slim chance of fraud in elections.
Registration can still be a face-to-face process. Addresses can be verified, and harsh punishments can be put in place for tampering with a voter’s mail. Neutral oversight can still be a goal that can be worked towards, ensuring transparency during these reasonably tense times.
Texas and many other states already have absentee voting infrastructures in place that are geared towards the elderly and disabled. What is needed is an expansion of resources for this method to work for the people.
So, if there is a reasonable assumption that the states can do this, what will be the benefits outside of short-term virus prevention?
Using a physical mailing system is a better alternative than the internet could ever be. Using a website on the internet carries a risk: they can be hacked by bad actors to influence our democracy. Having a physical material will at least slow down fraudulent votes and make it easier to track down.
Mail-in voting also allows more people the ability to vote on their own time. People want to be able to make voting an easier part of their life. They will demand there to be a quicker alternative than those long lines at the voting booth, to schedule a day out to participate in their system of government.
Voting is an important duty, but the lines, forms and time necessary to vote in-person limit the amount of people that can reasonably be expected to vote. This is especially the case for those that have concerns with money and cannot afford to take the time off in order to participate. The more citizens that have access to voting, the more complete the voice of the people will be.
If there can be any silver lining to this pandemic forcing us inside, it is that most now know there can be reasons out of our control that can impact someone’s ability to vote. There must be an effective absentee voting system that can be open to all, to provide a more accurate and fair democracy.