Mail-In Madness

COVID-19 increases importance of voting by mail

A+poll+worker+puts+a+mail-in+ballot+into+a+collection+box.+In+the+2020+election%2C+voting+by+mail+is+an+option+for+all+eligible+voters.

Rhyen Standridge and Amelia Vohsen

A poll worker puts a mail-in ballot into a collection box. In the 2020 election, voting by mail is an option for all eligible voters.

This year, almost everything has been different, and voting will be no exception. While voting by mail has existed in past elections, the 2020 election will have an unprecedentedly large amount of ballots coming in through the mail.

Absentee voting has been available for over a century, but is only available to people with specific, accepted excuses for not being able to vote in person. This year, due to COVID-19, voting by mail is an option for anyone who wants it, although as government teacher Nicholas Beckmann explains, this process differs between states.

“Each state controls their own elections,” Mr. Beckmann said. “Some states will mail all the registered voters a ballot that they can just return.”

In Missouri, mail-in ballots must be requested. However, unlike absentee ballots, no excuse is needed to obtain one.

“With both of them, you’re mailing in your pick, but [the difference is] how you obtain the ballot,” Mr. Beckmann said.

Junior Grace Bahru, who worked on a political campaign, emphasizes the importance of making sure to follow the exact process to cast your ballot.

“It’s really important to register your [mail-in] ballot on time and not miss the deadline,” Bahru said.

According to senior Luke Morrison, a poll worker, following the exact process is crucial to having your vote even count. Getting your ballot notarized is a necessary step.

“You have to do it their way, or they do have a habit of throwing it out sometimes, because it’s Missouri,” Morrison said.

Despite the rigidity of the process, Morrison isn’t worried about massive quantities of votes being disqualified.

“[A misconception is] that they’re gonna throw out a million ballots,” Morrison said. “It’s not that they’re gonna throw out all the ballots. In theory, if anything went wrong, they could contact you. They have all your information. They’re not just gonna see it and be like, ‘oh, this is fake.’”

Nowhere in the Constitution does it say you have to vote in person. It just says you have the right to vote, and so, as long as we protect that right, then we’ll be okay.”

— Mr. Nicholas Beckmann

However, many people still have their doubts about mail-in voting, and some claim it could lead to widespread voting fraud.

“People talk about fraud and stuff,” Mr. Beckmann said. “It’s very difficult for fraud to take place, and it historically hasn’t taken place.”

He also mentioned that the process of counting the mail-in ballots could delay the election’s results.

“Historically speaking, we know who’s going to be the president the night of [Election Day],” Mr. Beckmann said. “That will probably not be the case if it’s close, because they’ll still be counting. If it’s really close, it could take a week to two weeks.”

Morrison believes that usage of the mail-in system could vary widely in different parts of the nation.

“It’s becoming a politicized thing, I think,” Morrison said. “Especially around here, I think there’s gonna be a lot more people that are gonna be doing it in person.”

Ultimately, though, both he and Mr. Beckmann underscore that it doesn’t matter how you vote, as long as you’re voting.

“Vote. I don’t care how,” Morrison said. “If you wanna vote [by] mail-in voting, do it. If you don’t, vote [in person]. Just make sure you vote.”

“Nowhere in the Constitution does it say you have to vote in person,” Mr. Beckmann said. “It just says you have the right to vote, and so, as long as we protect that right, then we’ll be okay.”