Contrary to President Trump’s claims, voting by mail is safe and secure.
Republicans and Democrats support absentee voting as evidenced by members of both parties and both state parties mailing voters applications for absent voter ballots. This is not and should never be a partisan issue.
During a press briefing, President Trump told a reporter that voting by mail was corrupt. He claimed that “thousands of people were sitting in someone’s living room, signing ballots all over the place.”
I ask that you not fall for President Trump’s statements about voting by mail as those claims are not based in fact or reality.
President Trump is pushing the false claim of vote-by-mail fraud to sow seeds of distrust in our elections and election officials. In fact, many of these officials have dedicated their lives to conducting safe and secure elections, and we can and should trust these experts over someone who has never overseen an election and has a history of spreading misinformation.
Four years ago, the claim was that our elections were hacked. Now the claim is that vote-by-mail, which more and more states have moved to, is not trustworthy. This is a farce and I humbly ask that you push back on this rhetoric and do not sit idly by and let this claim gain momentum as our democracy and any potential peaceful transition of power will be at risk.
In Michigan, there are many measures in place that make voting by mail just as safe and secure, if not more, than going to the polls on Election Day. Michigan voters must request an absentee ballot by completing an application that includes your signature. The signature on that request form is then compared with the signature in your voter file to confirm your identity. Voters are then sent a ballot that has a specific ballot number assigned to it. When the ballot is returned to the clerk, the envelope that holds the ballot must be signed (that signature must also match what is on file), and the ballot number must match what was assigned to the voter. If there are any discrepancies along the way, the voter will need to respond to them, or their ballot may be challenged or not counted.
Perhaps the safest way for us to exercise our right to vote, during this pandemic and otherwise, is via US Mail. In addition to those voters who have a May Special Election, voters around the state should soon begin requesting an Absent Voter ballot for the August State Primary and November General Elections.
With all that is written above, it may be of note that President Trump has also put the U.S. Postal Service at risk by blocking potential emergency funding for them as their revenue has been hamstrung by the coronavirus. Election officials all across the nation rely on the USPS to mail election-related material (including but not limited to voter registration cards, address confirmation cards, absent voter ballot applications, and ballots). In addition to transmitting election materials, we rely on the USPS to deliver our prescriptions, household goods, and perhaps even paychecks.
We do not yet know how this will play out by the time we get to November, but Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has said that he cannot guarantee that voting in-person would be safe by the November 2020 Election. This means that we need to have conversations now about how to ensure the safety of voters, election workers, and our communities for upcoming elections, as well as making our elections accessible to all. Whether this involves bolstering the current mechanisms like Permanent Absent Voter Lists, or putting new practices in place like automatically mailing an absentee ballot application to all registered voters, we cannot delay these discussions. This cannot get bogged down by partisan agendas and fear-mongering, because we have an obligation to all of our citizens to carry out free and fair elections.