Voting in 2020
Not only is 2020 the year of rampant bushfires, unrelenting protests, and a global pandemic, but it’s also election year in the United States. As the dichotomy between American political views worsen and socioeconomic issues are increasingly highlighted, this election may be one of the most important in history. Despite the circumstances, nominees lead their campaigns as traditionally as possible with rallies, presidential debates, and conventions. Yet, the very driving force behind the elections may be compromised: voting.
An overwhelming majority of Americans usually choose not to vote during elections, but this year, when people have a new level of passion driving them, voting becomes increasingly difficult.
The obvious answer to this dilemma seems to be mail-in voting, which has surged significantly this year. In the 2016 general election, mail-in voting made up 24.9% of votes, while in 2020–for the primaries–mail-in voting has already increased to 50.3%. Several states have implemented new policies to facilitate voting from home including allowing for Covid-19 to be a reason to vote absentee and utilizing ballot drop boxes.
Voting in person is still an option; however, it does come with the drawback of longer lines to wait in due to strict Covid-19 protocols being enforced. Though it seems like a negligible consequence in comparison to what would happen if enough people didn’t vote, unfortunately, it’s enough to disincentivize a significant amount of voters.
It seems as though there’s a clear answer as to how people should be voting this year, and that is by mail-in voting, but there are several consequences to that as well. For one, President Trump claims that an increase in mail-in voting will result in increasing voter fraud, encouraging voters to vote twice: once by mail and then in-person to see whether the system works. However, there is evidence against this provided by states like Oregan where postal elections have existed since 2000 leading to only 14 cases of voter fraud. The rate of voter fraud will be as low as 0.00004%, but this may be enough to deter Republican voters, perhaps putting them at a disadvantage.
Furthermore, mail-in voting is a new process for several people as it is generally used for American citizens living overseas. Hence, it may cause more mistakes, increasing the number of illegal ballots. It is predicted that the rate of rejected absentee votes will increase from 1% to 1.4%, which may seem like a negligible amount, but in a time where voting is imperative, every vote will count.
Overall, the ways in which people vote this year may change drastically, but hopefully, it will not deter people from voting at all. As the United States becomes increasingly divided, there is more at stake than ever, and voters have the chance to change it all. Perhaps these new systems will stay in place and revolutionize voting in the long run.