Vote-By-Mail and Absentee Voting – Secure Alternatives to Cast Your Ballot in 2020

People wearing masks sit at tables going through envelopes of ballots.
Ballots cast in Racine, Wisconsin during the controversial April 7 Wisconsin presidential primary and state election are tabulated on Monday April 13, 2020. Each ballot envelope was opened and checked for compliance with election laws before being fed into a tabulating machine. The city had only drive-up and absentee mail ballot voting options; there was no in-person voting allowed. Photo by Mark He.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused the world to rethink many aspects of our day to day interactions and our civic duties – like casting a ballot.

Now, more than ever, voters need alternatives to in-person voting. Vote-by-mail and absentee voting are safe and secure alternatives for eligible voters to exercise their right to vote and stay safe. And it’s important to note that only voters who can vote-by-mail or absentee are voters who have verified their eligibility and identity with an election official.

The number of absentee and mail ballots cast this election cycle is expected to surge across the country. While the number of absentee and mail ballots will increase, the process itself is not new and has been proven to be safe and secure in both red and blue states alike.

Nationally, there were 42.5 million votes cast by mail in 2018. Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Utah, and Hawaii, lead the country in mail ballots, where it is the primary voting method for all eligible voters. 

Utah has an eight-year track record of mail voting.

“We lead the nation in this,” stated Republican Utah County Clerk/Auditor Amelia Powers Gardner in a recent Deseret News article. In the article Gardner went on to express her frustration with the challenges to mail voting because it is not a new way to cast a ballot. It has been a secure form of voting in her conservative county and many other counties for years.

There are measures in place to ensure that voters’ ballots remain safe and secure from the moment that they are cast until the moment that they are counted. Electronic ballot tracking allows voters to verify the status of their ballot at any time, from when election officials mail it out, to when the voter returns the ballot, and it is verified and counted.

Most states allow voters to ensure their ballots were received and/or counted by tracking their absentee ballot online or through text messaging. The 11 states that do not provide this service should start, so that voters have the confidence to know that their vote is counted in November.  

We can ensure a safe and accessible election in November, but it will require concerted action by officials at all levels of government to provide voters with safe and convenient access to the ballot even in these uncertain times. Voters should not have to choose between public health and a functioning democracy.

Hear from two local election officials about measures that are in place to ensure voting in 2020 is secure:

Kim is CLC's Director, Communications.