We should vote by mail in

Sophie Oehler

I spent this summer as an intern for OrganizeNH, helping field organizers “elect NH Democrats up and down the ballot.” 

Every night of the week, we made phone calls to voters across the state and convinced them to vote both Democrat and absentee during the fall elections. 

Many people were concerned about the validity of absentee ballots and the security of the counting system. After President Trump’s not so veiled threats against the post office, these worries are valid. However, it’s no excuse to dismiss absentee ballots as an unsafe voting method. 

Trump has spent much of the summer lambasting mail in voting, which is rich coming from a man who will submit an absentee ballot himself from the safety of his corona-free, thinking-free bunker. 

And, with his comments of “It’s much easier for [Democrats] to cheat with universal mail-in ballots”, he has successfully deterred the majority of Republicans from absentee voting, according to a 2020 article by the Washington Post. 

Voter fraud happens, but it’s easy to detect on a large scale, according to Richard L. Hanson, an election expert at the University of California, Irvine. So if Trump is right, and Democrats do try and cheat the system, it will be easily spotted and quickly dealt with. 

The other concern is Trump’s attempts to undermine the postal service by cutting costs and locking up mailboxes. That behavior itself is a red flag, but it’s also concerning since the post office has already suffered great cost cuts due to the recession caused by the pandemic. 

Since most businesses are now conducting their work online, the amount of marketing mail and first class mail has plummeted over the past few months. 

Less mail flow means less monetary flow, so the USPS was already crippled even before Trump kneecapped it. 

So in a way, absentee voting will help the USPS more than hurt it, since the more mail we get circulating, the better off the postal service will be. 

The problem these cost cuts create is mail delay. While an increase in mail will help the post office in the long run, it won’t be enough to get ballots in on time. 

Many states are allowing any ballot sent before election day to still count, even if it was received after the date. Unfortunately, Vermont is not one of them. 

So, Vermonters need to be extra careful this election. Most ballots are rejected not because of voter fraud, but because of signature problems and expired deadlines. In short, user error.

Read the fine print, and follow any and all directions to a tee. 

Treat absentee voting like you’re home alone and worried about a home invasion. The juvenile response is to pull the covers over your head, screw your eyes shut , and think happy thoughts until you eventually fall asleep. 

The adult response is to get up, double check that you locked all the doors and armed the security system. 

For many of us UVM students absentee voting is the only way we can vote.

Don’t hide under the bed and hope that the trouble will clear up in the morning. Get up, educate yourself and take the necessary precautions to make sure your vote is safe. You owe it to yourself and to your country. 

As the unpredictable pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the United States, for many, mail in voting remains the safest way to practice your civic duty and right to vote.