Will COVID-19 Make Presidential Election Results Unreliable?
Following almost every election, there are accusations of fraud. Regardless of the result, both sides believe the other cheated in one way or another.
But I can't ever remember more claims about potential fraud BEFORE an election than the one we've got coming up in November.
Of course, I'm referring to the 2020 presidential election featuring incumbent Donald Trump versus challenger Joe Biden.
Both Republicans and Democrats are claiming the other side is going to try to steal this election. What is driving this? It's the COVID-19 pandemic and the record-setting number of mail-in ballots expected to determine the winner.
Expect More Mail-In Votes Than Ever
Even before the coronavirus began ravaging the U.S., the trend of mailing in ballots was growing. In fact, it was approaching 30 percent of all ballots cast.
But with the pandemic spreading, more people are concerned about gathering in a public place to vote. Especially when some health officials predict a "second wave" of the virus this fall. So, many people are opting to vote by mail.
According to the Brookings Institute, this presidential election might include more mail-in ballots than those cast at polling places. If so, it would be the first time that's ever happened in the U.S.
During this year's presidential primaries, the percentage of mail-in ballots increased significantly as the COVID-19 spread worsened.
Trump Seeks Election Delay
Recently Trump suggested the election be delayed due to concerns about how mail-in ballots will be handled.
There is a precedent for this. Nearly 100 election events around the world have been delayed due to the pandemic. That includes 16 postponed primary elections in America.
Trump has been accused of recommending a delay because he is behind in most of the polls. And because he wants to hold onto power longer.
It's unlikely this election will be postponed. But the downturn in voter registration and in voter turnout during primaries is a concern to some.
Ever Since the Civil War
Many say there are no credibility issues when it comes to voting by mail. In the U.S., this has been going on since the Civil War.
That's when Union troops voted by absentee ballots. All 50 states currently allow mail-in voting.
A recent study revealed that of 14.6 million ballots cast, 372 were questionable. That's 0.0025 percent. The questionable ballots were said to favor neither party.
This past spring, Congress allocated $400 million in election security funding. But even strong proponents of mail-in voting believe that's not enough.
Suing the Golden State
Harmeet Dhillon is an elections lawyer based in San Francisco. She recently represented Republicans suing the state of California.
The suit claims the Democrat-run state should not send unrequested mail-in ballots to inactive voters. Because it opens the door to fraud.
In a USA Today editorial, Dhillon wrote this. "Election experts on the right and left acknowledge universal voting by mail poses a significant risk of disenfranchising voters. Through fraud, mistakes, delays and other problems.
"Democrats would flood the postal system with unused ballots. And open the door for bad actors to manipulate the election."
Will They Call It 'Election Month?'
One of the things that will make this presidential election unlike any that have come before is this.
We will probably not know on election night who the winner is. No matter how late we stay up watching results come in.
Because there will be more mail-in ballots cast than ever before, it will take much longer to count them.
Election Night? Probably not. More like "Election Week." And if the voting is closer than pollsters are now predicting, maybe even "Election Month."
USPS Will Be Busy
Another concern regarding mail-in ballots is the U.S. Postal Service's ability to handle all of them. Additional funding is being requested.
A number of states are trying to make it easier for people to vote by mail. Due to the pandemic.
In Georgia, there was a shortage of primary election poll workers due to coronavirus worries. That resulted in voting delays.
In both Pennsylvania and New York, primary votes were still being counted from one to six weeks after mail-in ballots were received.
Vote Early, Not Often
Many states are now encouraging people who plan to vote by mail to do it sooner rather than later.
Some states will not accept a mail-in ballot unless it is received prior to the election date. Others will accept those ballots as long as they are postmarked prior to the election.
Those who decide to vote in person at polling places may find it easier and faster due to more people voting by mail.
But if you live in an area where few are voting by mail, it might be slower than normal. Due to social distancing making longer lines.
What Do You Say?
Now it's your turn. I'd like to propose three questions to you. Leave your answers in the comments below.
As always, let's keep it civil and let's respect each other's opinions.
- Are you planning to vote in the November presidential election?
- Do you believe the final voting results will be fair and accurate?
- If President Trump gets voted out of office, how do you think things will change in America?