Support Grows for Voting by Mail During Health Crisis

    03 May 2020

    The United States is to hold a presidential election in November of 2020. The coronavirus crisis, however, has caused concern among some Americans about the safety of public voting stations.

    As a result, the interest in voting by mail has increased around the nation. The process would permit citizens to send their ballot through the U.S. postal service to election officials in their states.

    Board of election worker John Carlino opens a ballot at the warehouse where the ballots are counted for the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
    Board of election worker John Carlino opens a ballot at the warehouse where the ballots are counted for the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

    President Donald Trump is opposed to the process. And Republican Party officials in some states are supporting his objection.

    A new survey finds that 47 percent of Democratic Party members and 27 percent of Republicans support voting by mail. The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research did the survey.

    It found that 39 percent of Americans overall support voting by mail in November. In 2018, under 20 percent supported the process.

    The survey found that 40 percent of Americans are against voting by mail. However, 48 percent of those questioned also said they would support the process if the coronavirus were spreading come November.

    The survey also found a divide on support for no-excuse absentee voting. This system permits registered voters to vote by mail without providing a reason for doing so. The no-excuse absentee system is already in place in most states.

    President Trump and other Republicans argue that voting by mail will lead to election corruption. In a recent Twitter post Trump wrote "Republicans should fight very hard when it comes to statewide mail-in voting." He said possible dishonesty in the process was too risky.

    All states do elections differently. Only five states automatically mail ballots to every voter. But in answer to the coronavirus, some states have changed the political party presidential nominating elections to the mail-only process.

    The Republican National Committee has been fighting some of those moves.

    A New Mexico court recently decided in favor of Republicans who sought to block the state from holding its June primary by mail only. It forced the state to open some voting stations. The ruling also forces citizens to request permission to vote by mail.

    But, in Texas the Democratic Party won a court case about voting processes. A judge ruled that the state government must permit voters to vote by mail if they fear getting COVID-19 at voting stations.

    In Wisconsin, the Republican-controlled legislature defeated a request to hold that state's April 7 primary and state court election by mail.

    Such battles are expected to continue, especially if the virus is growing in the fall.

    Brynn Alexander is a 36-year-old who just moved into military housing in Alabama. She worries about security in the vote by mail process.

    "How do you even identify that the mail got to the right person?" Alexander asked, adding that in-person voting would make the public more accepting of the results. "You don't want one party or the other saying the other side cheated." she said.

    But Alexander said she supports exceptions to permit some people to mail in ballots, like her 70-year-old mother.

    Rick Reinesch is a 59-year-old computer technician in Austin, Texas. He said Republicans needlessly push worries about voter fraud.

    Paul Miller of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, is an 81-year-old Republican retiree. He said he is not sure he trusts voting by mail. He usually goes to a voting station on Election Day.

    But Miller might send his ballot this year in the face of the viral threat. "I could be persuaded," he said.

    I'm Alice Bryant.

    The Associated Press reported this story. Alice Bryant adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.


    Words in This Story

    survey - n. an activity in which many people are asked questions in order to gather information about what most people think about something

    absentee - n. a person who is not present in a usual or expected place

    primary - n. an election in which members of the same political party compete for the chance to be in a larger election

    automatic - adj. always happening because of a rule, law, previous agreement or something else