Last updateWed, 18 Nov 2020 1pm


2020 Is the Vote by Mail Election

2020 Vote 1Many aspects of the race for the White House have been thrown into uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic. Because of this global health emergency, most voters this year have received mail-in ballots.   

There are two kinds of mail balloting systems: universal vote by mail and absentee balloting. The traditional “go out and vote” method that is promoted to students and other voters will be somewhat different this year. 

States including California, Nevada, New Jersey, Vermont, and even Washington D.C. went forward with proposals to expand the use of absentee ballots in their elections, bringing into question incidence of voter fraud and the overall effectiveness of mail-in voting.

According to Darrell West, a political commentator at the Brookings Institution, ​there is fear on the conservative side because they feel it might “increase votes for the Democratic party.” 

Both political parties are fighting for their stance on why each voting method, whether it be by mail or in person, will work the best. Democrats and Republicans alike have their individual views on the matter. 

Patrick Murray, Director of the Polling Institute at Monmouth University, said ​that research has shown that voter fraud is a rare phenomenon. ​“Still, that is not to say that we won’t see an uptick in instances of attempted fraud this year,” he said. 

He suggests that because the mail voting process is being rushed into practice by many states, there are bound to be some bad folks who try to take advantage of it this yea​r.​ “Those cases will almost certainly pale in comparison to the number of voters who end up being inadvertently underrepresented on a technicality because they did not complete their ballot properly,” said Murray. 

Campus Vote Project (CVP) believes that ​young adults have the potential to make a difference, especially those in college. ​

CVP also found, “Young adults (ages 18-29) made up about 21 percent of the voting-eligible population in 2014.” ​But voter turnout for this demographic has reached record lows in recent years, leaving them marginalized, according to the site. 

However, voting by mail in most states is by postal balloting, where the voter needs to submit an absentee ballot.

Joshua Chanley, a senior history and political science student, said, “​Absentee ballots are slightly different from mail-in. In usual circumstances, there is no real issue with fraud because absentee ballots are filled out by people who currently aren’t home, e.g. college students.” 

 College campuses could include various resources for their students to register and mail in their ballots which might avoid cases of voter fraud.

Sarah McCambridge, a senior political science student, admitted that she does not know a lot about it. “I am just nervous about ballots not being counted or people sending in a ballot and then voting in-person because I heard some towns are doing in-person voting for some as well,” she said. 

Aaron Gordon, a senior reporter with Vice magazine, said, “American voters have every reason to be confused about how elections work in this country and how mail-in voting works in particular.” 

McCambridge just wants her vote to count.

Chanley added, “M​y suggestion is that if students can go home and vote in person, do so.” 

Not every student, though, has the opportunity to go to their home state and vote. The U.S. Postal Service is going to play a key role. Murray said, “​They (US Postal Service) didn’t help matters by sending out boilerplate postcards about mail voting that contradicted the process in some states.” 

Murray said, “We already have evidence that they did not deliver some ballots in time, or at all, during last summer’s primaries.” 2020 Vote 2

However, Murray reasons that providing multiple early voting locations and drop boxes will help counteract this problem with the U.S. Postal Service. Early voting could also be of use to busy college students. 

A ballot drop box provides a system for voters to return their mail ballot. ​Michael Phillips-Anderson, Ph.D., an Associate Professor ian Communication, said, “Dropping off a ballot at the Department of Elections or a designated ballot collection boxes should be safe and effective.” 

There are specific guidelines for how to keep ballot drop boxes secure and efficient. 

As reported by the U.S. Election Commission (2020). “24/7 video monitoring of drop boxes to ensure security, bipartisan teams of election officials for ballot collection, and a strict chain of custody procedures to ensure that only authorized elections officials ever handle ballots.”

Phillips-Anderson also asserts that despite recent controversy with the U.S. Postal Service, “We should make sure that the post office has sufficient funding to carry out its public service mission.” 

The U.S. Postal Services’ website reports that they receive no direct taxpayer funds and rely on profits from stamps and other fees. Due to the ongoing pandemic, revenue has increasingly fallen, according to the Brookings Institution.

 “If they’re going to be submitting the ballots, we need to ensure that they have ample funding for the security of students and other voters,” reiterated Phillips-Anderson. 

Monmouth University has worked towards providing voting information and resources to students on its website of the locations of these drop boxes and how to obtain mail-in ballots this election cycle. Students are also able to register online to vote in New Jersey. 

Murray concluded, “The bottom line is that mail voting, or dropbox voting, is a necessity this year.”

“Not only are many voters afraid to go to the polls for health reasons, but election officials would have been unable to recruit the necessary number of poll workers – who tend to be senior citizens – to staff all the usual polling places.” 



IMAGE TAKEN from Bloomberg

Contact Information

The Outlook
Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication
and Instructional Technology (CCIT)
Room 260, 2nd floor

The Outlook
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, New Jersey

Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151