Voting methods vary by state, mail-in voting increasing

Voting methods vary by state, mail-in voting increasing
Posted at 8:22 AM, Nov 04, 2020

Voting in the 2020 Election is took a number of different forms. From early in-person voting to voting by mail, states offered people various ways to do their civic duty.

"In many ways you can see that as a blessing or a curse of the American election system, that we have 50 different forms of election administration and within each state, counties have a lot of discretion of how they want to run their elections and design their ballots," said Seth Masket, a professor of Political Science and Director of the Center on American Politics at the University of Denver.

Masket says each state having a different election process actually strengthens the security of American elections from foreign hackers. But it can also make it harder for some people to vote depending on what state or county they live in.

"For the most part, Election Day is not a holiday in the United States and if people are going to vote, they need to take time off work or make some sort of arrangements for child care. There’s a level of inconvenience to it and not every state and city is very accommodating of that," said Masket.

A number of states across the country have been 100% mail-in ballots for quite some time, others have joined on recently.

"I believe Oregon was the first to go in this direction back in the late 1990s. They started doing all mail-in ballots, a few others, mostly western states including Hawaii and Washington and Utah followed suit. Colorado started doing this for the 2014 election cycle, so it's a relatively small number of states. But since California is now in the mix it’s a large number of voters," said Masket.

Ben Hovland is the Chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. He says in the last presidential election, 25% of Americans voted by mail or absentee ballot.

"We've seen a few other states come on recently like Utah and Hawaii and then a few states this year but you also have states like Arizona where they have permanent early voting list where about 75% of their voters are getting a mail ballot sent to them automatically," said Hovland.

Hovland says in nearly every state, voters can request a mail-in ballot. Though, some states require you to provide a valid excuse for it.

Still, he expects a record number of people will be voting by mail in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

No matter how you vote this year, experts say make sure you're going to your local government, and not social media, for information about how and where to vote, registration information and vote-by-mail deadlines.

"The National Association of Secretaries of State has led a program called Trusted Info 2020 which is oriented towards getting people to go to their local election official for information," said Hovland.

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