Making Sense of Mail-in Voting


Given the scale of the coronavirus pandemic, it was apparent that a new mode of voting was needed for the nation. A mass of people voting in all fifty states, and in some cases, in very densely populated areas simply was not viable for this election. It was clear that mail voting would be a better system for a pandemic, which posed several challenges. For instance, in 45 states, there wasn’t a precedent for using mail voting on a large scale, and more importantly, there was no law on the books setting up a mail voting system.


Many states this year have been scrambling to set up the infrastructure for mail-in voting, and some still have not managed to set it up. This means that for many Americans in states like Louisiana and South Carolina, voters will have to choose between staying safe at home or having their voice be heard. This may be an especially large-scale problem in a state like Texas, which, in addition to being the state with the second most people in the country, has recently become a swing state. Given that about twice as many Democrats are planning to vote by mail than Republicans, this may significantly affect the results. Texas does not allow it’s voters to use the Covid-19 pandemic as a reason to receive mail-in ballots.


It’s worth noting that in some cases it isn’t that the politicians don’t have the time or resources to put Mail-in voting on the books, but that they don’t want to due to political motivations and desire for their party to emerge victoriously. For example, President Trump has recently threatened to sue Nevada, a blue state, for setting up mail-in voting, whereas, in a state much more favorable to him like Florida, he has endorsed the state setting up mail-in voting. Finally, although Trump has claimed Absentee and Mail-in voting are very different, and not connected, mail-in voting is just a form of Absentee voting.


The final thing worth mentioning is how mail-in voting could shape election night. Because mail-in ballots take significantly longer to count, and mostly Democrats use them, there could be a difference between the vote as it appears on election night and the vote as it changes in the coming weeks. This could be a real issue and undermine the election results to many people, and it’s worth looking out for this November.