Partisan divide on mail: What voting amid coronavirus looks like

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No matter the circumstances right now, it is important to vote in any way possible.

Preksha Kedilaya, News Editor

Many high school seniors in the country will immediately enter adulthood with the opportunity to vote for the first time in the 2020 election. Some of whom were excited to get a real glimpse at what voting for their country is like. Unfortunately, the fallout that occurred due to the Iowa Caucus chaos was only the beginning. 

As states across the country work around the pandemic, closing down schools, issuing lockdowns and banning large gatherings, the worry of how it will affect the election rises. As of now in Iowa, the state primary is to be held on June 2. 

States such as Wyoming and Ohio have already canceled in-person voting and are setting the trend for states to pass laws that extend absentee voting. This form of voting is starting to become a possibility for Iowa and all other states. If the pandemic is not over by June, some people are worried about what effects this may have on the votes. In fact, voting by mail has caused a partisan divide in a drive to expand vote-by-mail options. 

Republicans have taken a stance against absentee voting through mail. The party believes that voting by mail is more susceptible to fraud since more voters do not have to vote in person. Trump announced he believes that “mail ballots are a very dangerous thing for this country because they’re cheaters. They’re fraudulent in many cases.” However, the Democratic party is fighting back. 

In the same interview, the President also voiced that voting by mail would negatively impact the Republican candidates. He told Fox News that making it easier for people to vote would mean “you would never have a Republican elected in this country again.” In the 2016 election, there was a clear association between family income and voter turnout. As the income rises, so does voter participation. This algorithm  has always worked in favor of the Republican party as a majority of the party’s values hinder families of lower income.

But not when mail ballots might become the only way to vote. 

Additionally, fraud should not be a worry among voters. Utah, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Colorado, five states that already vote entirely by mail, have reported little fraud. The main concern is of inexperienced voters who are not familiar with voting by mail and may miss the deadline to send in their absentee ballot.

Senior Eesha Lawande is a registered voter and is planning to vote at the primaries and for the election this fall. She is worried about how the pandemic will affect the process of voting in person. “Unfortunately, I am not familiar with voting by mail and I was planning to vote at the polls. Overall we can’t change the fact that this is happening but the election is an important part of our country so I’m sure this is worrying a lot of me, not just me,” says Lawande. However, there are resources to learn information regarding alternate voting methods if it comes to it.

There are strict requirements to properly vote by mail. One must prepare an absentee ballot application and return it to the local election office. The application must be received at least 10 days before the election/primary. Then once the ballot arrives, the voter must fill it out and send it back to the return address provided. Once again, if the election office does not receive the ballot before the deadline, the vote will not count. Further details can be found on the vote.org website.