The recently concluded U.S elections had an unprecedented amount of total votes as well as an unprecedented amount of absentee ballots. Absentee ballots refer to voters who are unable to go to the polls for one reason or another therefore they vote from home by requesting an absentee ballot and then mailing the filled-in ballot back to the state. Absentee ballots are not a new concept however it has received a lot of press as a result of the 2020 US elections. It is important to differentiate between an Absentee ballot and a mail-in ballot. An absentee ballot is requested by the voter while a mail-in ballot is automatically sent to every single registered voter in the state. All states offer some form of absentee balloting but only five states conduct their elections via mail-in voting (Washington, Hawaii, Utah, Oregon, and Colorado)
For an Absentee Ballot to be sent out, the voter has to apply for one and then they’ll either be rejected or accepted. The rules surrounding requesting an Absentee Ballot vary from state to state but they’re usually along the lines of the following;
- Not currently being in the country they’re registered to vote.
- Military personnel deployed in other nations
- A student who lives outside the country they’re registered to vote.
- People who have illnesses or disabilities.
- Being on jury duty or having to work during the stipulated voting hours
- Being a poll or an election worker
- Those who have religious practices that do not support going to an in-person voting center
- Finally, people who are in prison but eligible to vote.
Some states also offer a no-excuse absentee ballot but they may refer to such ballots as a mail-in ballot. This year a lot of people were able to cite the Covid-19 pandemic as their reason for requesting an absentee ballot. A lot of people expressed fears of contracting the virus while waiting at the polls hence, the large number of absentee ballots. The voter turnout has been massive and it is the largest turnout of voters ever seen in a United States election so there have been a lot of discussions on whether Absentee Ballots should be the new norm of voting. There are several advantages to Absentee Balloting. Let’s take a look at them.
- Absentee Ballots are for the benefit of the voter and not the politician because absentee ballots are sent out as early as 6 weeks before the election. This gives the voter the chance to take their time voting and also vote before politicians start getting agitated as the elections draw closer.
- Absentee ballots are great for people who live in very partisan states.
- Absentee ballots offer more accurate counting although they might place strains on poll workers in smaller but populated locations.
- Finally, the independence offered by Absentee Ballots is a strong indicator of a good democracy.
Absentee Ballots are a great option for political voting especially for countries like the United States who run a democracy.