Mail-in ballots are the savior of crisis electioneering. This voting process is not new in the United States since it was first introduced in Monterey, California in 1977. It is the only voting process that is safe especially now that there is a worldwide pandemic that restricts movement of people. The covid-19 pandemic has left voters with two options. Option one is defying democracy by not voting and option two is coming up with an alternative voting process. With that effect, the best alternative is mail-in ballots.
This process has already been adopted by several states. This makes it easier since there are voters who are already eligible to vote by mail. Precisely, there are thirty-three states that allow absentee voting with mail-in ballots being the most preferred method. According to data collected after the 2016 presidential election in the United States, it was noted that 23 % of voters voted by mail. This was a 12 % increase from the number in 2004.
Transitioning from the traditional voting process to mail-in ballots is also very easy. The process only requires registering to vote by mail, and understanding the rules of mail-in ballots. The rules vary from state to state but they are all aimed at governing how the ballots reach the voters and how they are returned to be tallied. It is therefore upon civic organizations, the government, and other interested parties to publicize the requirements and process of voting by mail.
Mail-in ballots are also arguably very cost efficient. The states that allow mail voting have saved millions that could otherwise have been spent in traditional voting. An exemplary case to prove this is the three mail-in ballots elections conducted in Oregon counties between 1995 and 1997. The counties were surprised after saving over $1 million. Statistics insinuate that if both the primary and general elections implemented mail-in ballots, the counties would have saved $3 million more.
The current health crisis aside, mail-in ballots increases the overall voter turnout. The states that already offer access to mail-in ballots have been reporting higher voter turnouts than those that are still using archaic voting processes. This margin recorded its highest at 15.5 % during the 2018 midterm elections. It is therefore advisable for other states to join them so as to bridge this margin that keeps on widening. The critics who are convinced that mail-in ballots is a partisan affair should revisit the statistics and see that every party benefits from increased turnout.
For states that can’t permit mail-in ballots due to the complexity of the process, it is advisable that they use the covid-19 pandemic as the reason for undertaking absentee ballots. I am quite sure that after a successful election, all states will perform constitutional amendment allowing mail-in ballots. It is also possible for an election to be conducted entirely by mail-in ballots. Especially now that the situation does not allow for in-person ballots, this seems like the most practical option. Pure mail-in balloting is already tested in some states including Washington DC, Hawaii, and Colorado.