Voting from Home is Safe and Easy
The 2020 general election is the most important many of us will ever see. Voters will decide between competing visions of America’s future as we choose our leaders at every level of government. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has yet to be brought under control, and creates special challenges to the safety and security of our election process. The conflict between the need to avoid large-scale social contact and the need to ensure every eligible American can vote safely, securely, and conveniently, must be confronted and resolved. Therefore, the League of Women Voters of White Bear Lake Area (LWVWBLA) encourages Minnesotans to Vote From Home in 2020.
In Minnesota, voting from home is safe and easy. For people wishing to avoid exposure to the COVID-19 virus and unwilling to wait at crowded polling places, voting by mail is as easy as one, two, three, four:
Step One – If you are not already registered, do so at www.mnvotes.org. The LWVWBLA recommends pre-registering early to avoid needing a witness to confirm residency. Shoot for the end of September.
Step Two – Request an absentee ballot soon. We recommend doing this by early October.
Step Three – Vote. Again, you do not need a witness if you are pre-registered. If you need other assistance, you may choose someone to help you. Then sign, place in the proper envelope, sign the signature envelope, and place in the mailing envelope provided.
Step Four – Return your ballot. If sent by mail, ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received no later than one week after the election. However, we recommend mailing it by October 16, as advised by Joe Mansky, former elections director. Minnesota election judges are authorized by the legislature to begin processing mail in ballots two weeks before Election Day this year in order to deal with the increase in absentee ballots expected. You can also drop your ballot at your local election office by 3:00 PM on the day of the election or sooner. Search your county election office at www.mnvotes.org.
Some may be concerned about the safety and efficiency of voting by mail, but these concerns should not prevent anyone from voting: Recent cuts in funding and service by the newly-appointed Postmaster General have led to worries about the USPS delivering mail quickly enough to support an election. To combat these concerns, the LWVWBLA urges everyone to contact your legislators to take steps to ensure the integrity of the USPS. But Voting from Home is still the best thing to do.
Others believe voting by mail will encourage fraud. But it is actually very hard to corrupt mail-in voting. Voting by mail is nothing new. All Minnesotans have been able to vote by mail since 2014, and absentee voting has been available for longer than that. It’s very difficult to request or cast a vote by mail in someone else’s name, because ballots are signed and signatures are checked on receipt. Nationwide security procedures also protect the delivery of ballots. Finally, studies show that Vote by Mail programs do not favor one political party over another, and that actual voter impersonation and ballot falsification is very rare.
Voting by mail has never been more important, or easier to do. Our democracy depends on the voices of ALL citizens. If it is difficult or unsafe for you to vote at your polling place this year, never fear – you can Vote Early and Vote from Home!