Mail-in vs. absentee voting: What is the distinction?

Is mail-in voting safe?


He has adjusted his rhetoric previously few weeks. It is not simply “mail-in” voting he now opposes, however somewhat, as he has put it, “common mail-in voting.” Throughout a press convention final week, he defined why he is all for absentee voting, however against mail-in voting:

“Absentee voting is nice. You request — I am an absentee voter as a result of I requested, I obtained, after which I despatched in my vote. In order that works out very nicely. That is what we have had. However now they need to ship in thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of ballots.”

Nonetheless, in distinction, he stated common mail-in voting could be very very unhealthy:

“Common mail-in voting goes to be catastrophic. It is going to make our nation a laughingstock everywhere in the world. You possibly can’t ship out thousands and thousands of ballots.”

However this is the factor. An entire lot of absentee voting (most of it!) is finished by mail. An absentee vote is a vote solid exterior of the voting sales space, historically for very particular and restricted causes. There’s been some model of absentee voting by mail because the Civil Conflict, when troops voting from the battlefield helped Abraham Lincoln win reelection.

It is labored so nicely that a number of states have moved to all mail-in voting system, the place they mechanically ship ballots to all registered voters. Oregon is the basic instance of “common mail-in voting” since mail-in voting is all they do.

Associated: How to verify your poll is counted within the 2020 election

The excellence, because it appears to exist in Trump’s thoughts, seems to be between states that conduct their elections primarily by mail and people who require voters to request a poll to be turned in by mail.

Trump says mechanically sending mail ballots to all registered voters is BAD. However having to request your mail poll is GOOD. The primary system is usually known as “common vote-by-mail” or “all-mail” election. The second system is known as “absentee voting” and may be “no-excuse” or no excuse required.

This 12 months’s election, partly due to a normal pattern towards away from polling-place voting and partly due to the continued Covid-19 pandemic, goes to see extra mail-in ballots than ever. In response to a brand new CNN ballot, by which 34% say they like to vote by mail within the presidential election, 22% say they need to vote early at a polling place, and simply 43% say they would favor to vote in-person on Election Day.

That represents a 10-point improve over the share who voted by mail in 2016: 24%, in line with the US Election Help Fee.

There are 50 US states and in 42 of them, for this 12 months, anybody who needs to vote by mail can achieve this.

Listed below are the small print, in line with CNN’s political unit:

  • Eight states, along with Washington, DC, shall be conducting a primarily vote-by-mail election in November (CA*, CO, DC*, HI, NV*, OR, UT, VT*, WA)
  • 34 states enable voters to request a mail ballots with no excuse (AL*, AK, AR*, AZ, CT*, DE*, FL, GA, ID, IL*, IA*, KS, ME, MA*, MD, MI*, MN, MO*, MT, NE, NH*, NJ, NM, NC, ND, OH*, OK, PA, RI, SD, VA, WV*, WI, WY)
  • Eight states require an excuse to solid a poll by mail (IN, KY, LA, MS, NY, SC, TN*, TX)

Asterisks denote a change was made resulting from coronavirus.

It is a good place to insert the truth that every state governs its personal election guidelines. So nobody is definitely speaking about common mail-in voting for your complete nation, though you may think about Democrats being supportive of the concept. A number of states have modified election guidelines through the pandemic and made it simpler to vote absentee, by mail.

There’s something else to contemplate. Since there shall be so many extra folks mailing ballots on this 12 months, and since which may decelerate the mail, there’s an excellent probability we won’t know the winner of the presidential election on election night time. And that is Trump’s newest criticism. In 2016, mail-in ballots and absentee ballots made Hillary Clinton’s in style vote margin develop over Trump’s for weeks after Election Day. Completely different states have totally different guidelines about when ballots may be obtained and nonetheless counted. Underneath the present system, election-watchers have recognized a “blue shift,” the place the post-election tally of mail in votes over days or even weeks tends to favor Democrats.

Trump acknowledged the dearth of a distinction between voting by mail and absentee voting earlier this month when he inspired Floridians — folks dwelling in a state he thinks he can win — to absentee vote by mail.

“Whether or not you name it Vote by Mail or Absentee Voting, in Florida the election system is Protected and Safe, Tried and True. Florida’s Voting system has been cleaned up (we defeated Democrats makes an attempt at change), so in Florida I encourage all to request a Poll & Vote by Mail! #MAGA”

So there you go. Name it no matter you need. Simply vote. And to make this work easily, vote quickly.

Actually, Trump will in all probability solid his presidential vote absentee in Florida. We all know this as a result of he voted, absentee, and within the Florida congressional major on Tuesday. He’ll do it. He simply does not need all people to do it. However somewhat than mail it, he’ll ship it by way of another person who has signed an affidavit.

And search for the subsequent frontier to be a struggle over how absentee ballots may be collected, if not by mail. Generally, third events — organizations or political events — will collect sealed ballots. The follow, referred to as poll assortment or “harvesting,” is just not authorized in each state. It is usually on the coronary heart of GOP suspicions about mail-in voting.

Nonetheless, the identical safety protocols for all mail-in voting (distinctive codes, signature verification and others) nonetheless apply to those absentee ballots. These safety protocols recognized the most important instance of election fraud in recent times, in North Carolina in 2018, perpetrated by a Republican operative.

Elevated entry to absentee voting in Nevada is at the moment the topic a struggle over poll assortment.

CNN’s Marshall Cohen contributed to this report.


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