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How Mail-In Voting Will Impact the 2020 Election

Controversy has been brewing over the realities of universal mail-in voting as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. What’s the risk?

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The country has been trying to figure out how to hold the 2020 election in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic. Talk of universal mail-in voting has begun to dominate political news since the onset of COVID-19 in the United States. Some states like Nevada responded by pushing to strengthen mail-in voting. Other states like Texas have instead focused on protecting in-person voters from catching the virus. In the case of Nevada, their decision to mail ballots to all “active voters” was contested by the Trump administration, who argued that mail-in voting could be subject to mass voter fraud.

Voter fraud in the United States takes many shapes and forms. Voter impersonation, poll closures, ballot harvesting, ineligible voting, and many more actions are considered acts of electoral fraud.

Electoral fraud typically happens every year in each state, though the violations may sometimes be unintentional. The Heritage Foundation has tracked 1,296 instances of voter fraud since 1980, a number that may concern some. In general, the cases of voter fraud have only had significant impacts on local elections, though it’s important to note that the number of proven instances is not the same as the number of votes that ended up being manipulated.

In addition to the problems of potential voter fraud, many experts are telling the public to prepare not to have a president declared on Election Day. The COVID-19 pandemic was already likely to stress the post office to deliver the ballots by Election Day, but now that states are even implementing universal mail-in voting, the stress will undoubtedly increase even more. The importance of the postal system is undeniable this election, and recent actions taken by the president have brought up a significant political debate throughout the country.

Over the last month, the United States Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has been called into Congress to testify on mail slowdowns and mailbox removals throughout the country. Democrats have blamed the Trump administration’s cutbacks of the postal service as an attempt to sabotage the election, which will rely on the mailing system more than ever before. The Trump administration has also faced accusations of voter disenfranchisement by allowing the USPS to remove communal mailboxes where citizens could drop off mail and, in turn, their ballots. President Trump himself has admitted that the cuts would affect the postal services’ ability to meet the demands of the presidential election this year. However, the postal service has been facing cuts for several years.

The Trump administration has virulently opposed universal mail-in voting, arguing that no elections in the past have ever been so reliant on mail-in ballots. Just this week, President Trump himself pointed out a common issue likely to happen on Election Day: millions of mail-in votes being rejected. In the primary season alone, more than 550,000 absentee ballots were rejected, and this number will only increase when it comes time for the presidential election. In addition to this, there are fears about the potential for citizens mailing in ballots while also attempting to vote in-person on Election Day to make sure their vote gets counted.

It remains to be seen if the spike in mail-in voting will cause irreparable harm to vote tallies on Election Day. Both the Biden and Trump campaigns are preparing to wait for weeks to get the results, and assembling legal teams to ensure that their campaigns come out on top. Regardless of whether the postal service is sufficiently funded or not, there are no guarantees about the security of our presidential election.

Jose Backer, General Assignment Reporter, is a graduate of St. Michael's College and is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Political Science. Born and raised in Southern California, he currently resides in the Pasadena area.

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