Reese: Mail-In Voting Is Safe and Efficient


(Illustration by Alex Garcia | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Isaac Reese, Opinion Writer


The eyes of the nation and the world were on the University of Utah when we hosted the 2020 Vice Presidential Debate. I was lucky enough to attend the debate in person as a student volunteer, and I was disappointed — but not shocked — to hear Vice President Mike Pence attack vote-by-mail even though both he and President Donald Trump will be mailing in their votes this election. Gov. Gary Herbert sat just a few rows ahead of me at the debate and seemed unphased by Pence’s inaccurate statement. The following day, he tweeted a statement supporting vote-by-mail but failed to point out Pence’s lies. While Hebert has even had a conversation with Pence defending the way Utahns vote, he has failed to publicly call out the Trump administration’s stance. With many states using vote-by-mail this year, there should have been a national leader to reassure that the system is safe and secure for voting. Herbert could have positioned himself to be a voice against conspiracy theories discouraging vote by mail, but he has only reassured a population that already knows, as Utah proves, that mail-in voting is safe and efficient.

The most recent cases of voter fraud in Utah are Mormon parents filling out their missionary children’s ballots. Utahns have been voting by mail since 2013 and experienced no major systematic voter fraud issues. In 2018, Weber County election officials intercepted 18 individuals who were planning to vote twice. Vote-by-mail is designed to catch voters who try and manipulate the results. Between the elections of 2016 and 2018, only about 0.0025% of ballots were flagged as fraudulent in the states of Colorado, Washington and Oregon, which also vote by mail. When voter fraud does occur, it is a fraction of those who vote and is quickly caught and corrected. In fact, vote-by-mail helps eliminate fraud. According to a Weber County official, “Ballots are printed on special paper and have unique characteristics that make it almost impossible to duplicate.” On top of that, signature comparisons allow election officials to identify and reject fraudulent votes. These measures and others ensure the security of our election system. 

Vote-by-mail will also protect Utahns from the risks of voting in person during a pandemic. In the June 2020 primary, less than 1% of people voted in person — yet we saw the highest turnout for a primary election in Utah history. Utah voters were able to participate in larger numbers because they could fill out their ballots from home. Vote-by-mail also allows for social distancing and minimizes the number of people with which a voter or poll worker will have to come in contact — which ultimately encourages civic engagement.

For college students who might be voting, or voting in Utah, for the first time, it’s important to offer some specific information — Utah ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 2, 2020. Do not wait to fill out your ballot. Mail it in early to ensure your vote is counted in time. During a pandemic, this is the best way to vote safely, since polling locations will be limited on Election Day.

Utah has developed a safe, efficient and secure system for us to elect our leaders. It is a shame that Gov. Herbert does not feel the need to defend the integrity of our system on the national stage as other states stare down an increase in mail-in ballots. While the Trump administration will surely continue spewing misinformation and conspiracy theories about vote-by-mail, even though they use it themselves, Utahns can be assured that we will have a fair election.


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