With the scheduling of United States Presidential Election for November 3, 2020, a rising concern for the mode of voting is gripping the entire nation. Every state in the U.S. already offers absentee voting for residents, which allows a voter who is unable to appear at his or her polling station due to any of the permissible reasons on the election day, to vote early either in-person or by mail. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need to explore options to increase vote by mail opportunities as each state has its own rules for mail-in absentee voting. Waiting in long queues and crowded rooms pose a substantial health risk for the voters, so in-person voting cannot be implemented especially in times when there is no certainty on the lifting of lockdown. So, planning of logistics and allocation of funds for this shift in the voting process is required as prospects of improvement of the situation till November are minimal.
David Lazer, professor of Political Science and Computer and Information Sciences at Northeastern University conducted a study on the preferences of people for mail-in voting. The study reveals that 60 per cent of the U.S. residents support mail-in voting, making it easier to implement this method, 16 per cent oppose it and the remaining 24 per cent are indifferent. It also identifies the reason for this difference which ranges from ideological differences to trust in the government. However, the conclusion that this research proposes is voters essentially don’t want in-person voting.
The concern about health risks may deter people from voting and result in low voter turnout which in turn may produce an inefficient result. Encouraging mail-in voting by simplifying the procedure can be a fruitful move for the U.S. voters and can even lead to a rise in the total number of votes as it will enable some people to vote who otherwise would not have.