Point of View: Voters should start planning to vote-by-mail
While many Floridians will begin preparing for the hurricane season this summer, many will also be taking additional measures to prepare for the election season. Unlike previous years when voters typically delay any thought related to the election season until August, public officials and voters are forced to consider the impact of the pandemic on the upcoming primary election in August and general election in November.
I agree with election experts, including Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections Wendy Sartory Link, that vote-by-mail is the safest and most convenient way for voters to exercise their civic duty without compromising their health and safety.
Link recently highlighted the benefits of mail-in voting:
– Voters have more time to read the ballot and make informed decisions when they vote from the comfort of their home
– Voters will avoid the health risk of standing in line to vote
Given the expected increase in requests for vote-by-mail ballots, Supervisor Link encourages voters to request their ballots now instead of in July or August. At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, 41% of votes cast during the March election were mailed in ballots and the percentage of voters using mail-in ballots is expected to increase. Voters can request a vote-by-mail ballot by phone at (561) 656-6208, and in-person. But the most convenient is by submitting this form on the Palm Beach County Elections Office website.
Though mail-in voting has been politicized by political parties in Florida and throughout the nation, I think Florida voters should consider the fact that claims of higher occurrence of voter fraud associated with mail-in voting have not been substantiated by elections experts. For instance, in Oregon and Washington, which implemented voting by mail during the 2016 election, suspected voter fraud cases made up 0.002% of the total votes cast.
I believe we should also stay vigilant of the failures that can arise from mail-in voting if election administrators are not well prepared and if clear instructions are not available to a diverse population of Palm Beach voters. For instance, it’s encouraging that mail-in ballots in Palm Beach County will have prepaid postage to simplify the task for voters. The early registration of mail-in ballots will further simplify the process for successful elections.