After finally receiving my mail-in ballot, I’ve filled it out and am now just waiting to go drop it off. While there has been a lot of controversy around mail-in ballots, it has traditionally been a relatively fraud-free system, despite what our sitting president says.
This year, in fact, I’ve heard a lot more about potential “fraud” occurring at the fault of the Republican party than mail-in voting in general. Take a look, for instance, at the unofficial – and illegal – ballot drop-boxes in the state of California. By now, I’m sure you’ve heard that this is illegal, so I won’t go into extensive detail over it.
In other states, such as Texas, Republican governors are pushing to make it as difficult as possible for voters to return mail-in ballots by limiting how many official ballot drop-boxes are allowed per county.
And, in Pennsylvania, the Trump campaign attempted to sue over, once again, ballot drop-boxes on the basis of voter-fraud. A Trump-appointed judge even said this was a stretch. According to an article by Matthew S. Schwartz for NPR, “the judge – a Trump appointee – also noted that the Trump campaign had offered no hard evidence that voter fraud would actually occur.”
I’d say it’s another baseless claim from someone who lives in their own little world with their “alternative facts,” but I digress. To put it quite simply: mail-in ballots are not fraudulent if you actually listen to what the laws in your state are.
If it says to use a certain pen color, do it. Many states, including ours, will only count your ballot if you return it in the second secrecy envelope, so don’t forget that, either. They also won’t count it if you fill it in wrong, put stray marks on it, or get the paper wet or dirty.
But the mail has been so slow recently, and I only just got my mail-in ballot, will it make it on time? The truth is, I have no idea. Columbia County supposedly is only accepting a mail-in ballot by 8 p.m. election night, but according to our state voter website, it only has to be postmarked by 8 p.m. election day. It could just be worded strangely on the county website, but I’d get it there on time just to be safe.
I’m sure there are disputes in other counties over this as well. Since it’s only mid-October, I’d say to mail-in your ballot as soon as possible and use the ballot tracking services on our PAVoterServices webpage to make sure your ballot arrives on time.
Or, if you’d prefer, you can do what I plan to do: take your ballot directly to an official drop-box (if your county has one) or to your county election office or satellite election office. Clearly, this method will help you know that your ballot got to your election office on time and will be counted in the general election.
Personally, I think that if you have the means to do so, dropping your mail-in ballot off in-person is the best option. You can see that it is received by getting rid of the middleman – the postal service – and just turning it in yourself.
While I appreciate the postal service, in these turbulent times, this is one piece of mail that cannot afford to arrive late. A late birthday present might suck, but at least the person can still have it. A late ballot, on the other hand, means you were unable to exercise your right to help steer our country in the way you want it to go.
For more information on voting in Pennsylvania, whether by mail, early in-person, or on election day, visit our state’s voter-services website and spread the word. No matter your method, vote because it matters – to you, your family and friends, your country, and your planet.