Updated: Aug 24, 2020
I keep witnessing the back and forth regarding mail-in voting. Mud being slung by both sides of the aisles. With independents like myself caught somewhere in the middle. One of the common themes I hear as of late is, "If you can go to the gym, if you can go to Walmart, if you can go to the bookstore, you can stand in line to vote in person". That may be so (sometimes I like to play devil's advocate), but what if you can't go to the gym, or walk around Walmart, or drive to the bookstore?
While all states allow mail-in voting, the rules vary from state to state. For example, CO, HI, OR, UT, and WA are almost entirely "vote by mail" states. For a vast majority of the other states, voting by mail is an option. Lastly, a small handful of states only allow verifiable exceptions with regards to mail-in voting. That said, the COVID-19 pandemic has opened discussions for ways to relax certain restrictions. Some states are looking into ways to safely and securely implement "no-excuse absentee voting", a term that indicates you don't need to explain why you want an absentee ballot as you have in the past -- but you'll still need to fill out an application and request one, either online or through the mail.
It is highly advisable that for persons desiring to vote by mail, check with your state and local rules governing such. I will include reputable links at the end of this blog.
Another thing I hear lately is the argument of a mail ballot versus an absentee ballot. There is a difference, yet it is quite minor. An absentee ballot is a ballot that the voter requests. A mail-in ballot is a ballot that is automatically sent to a voter without the voter having to request it. Otherwise, everything else is the same. The ballot itself looks exactly the same. The processing on the back end once the ballot is received by election officials, all of that is the same as well. There is no difference.
And now this part. Throughout this entire election cycle, you will hear a lot of heated rhetoric as to why you should or should not vote by mail or in person. And while it is important to be informed about the voting process, it is equally important not to feel pressured or intimidated. Cut through the window dressing and the sound and fury.
President Trump has expressed he is adamantly opposed to mail-in voting, although he and the First Lady have requested their ballots. He has also stated that he feels Florida would be an acceptable state for mail-in voting.
“Whether you call it Vote by Mail or Absentee Voting, in Florida the election system is Safe and Secure, Tried and True. Florida’s Voting system has been cleaned up (we defeated Democrats attempts at change), so in Florida I encourage all to request a Ballot & Vote by Mail! #MAGA” (Trump's tweet 8-4-2020)
Also, only primary ballots have party affiliation designations (Florida specifically). Presidential ballots do not. Not only that, but presidential ballots aren't sent out until October. Anything prior would be fraudulent.
No matter what anyone Red or Blue says, voting by mail has been around since decades past, and I suspect it will be around decades hence. It is one of the threads woven into the fabric of our democracy. At the end of the day, your vote is a very valued personal choice. You know your situation better than anyone else. So make the decision that is best for you. Because anything is is sound and fury--signifying nothing.