It’s the classic vision of Election Day – head to your polling place, check in and vote.
But this year, the tradition at the base of our democracy will look very different. Ballots will arrive in the mail for more people than ever due to the pandemic.
So, how does the process work? It’s streamlined and closely monitored.
You, a voter, get your ballot in the mail. You fill it out and seal it in the provided envelope. It’s crucial you don’t forget to sign in the designated area.
From there, you can add postage and drop it in the mail. Some cities have ballot drop boxes that go directly to the county with no stamp or post office needed.
Once the state has your ballot, it goes through different stations where independent workers open the envelope, scan the ballot, and check to make sure everything is valid. That process is often open for public viewing, either in-person or streaming online.
While that’s meant to provide some transparency, mail-in voting is new to millions of people and some worry it’s not safe and secure.
The head of the Federal Election Commission recently tried to put worries at bay. She is quoted as saying “there’s simply no basis for the conspiracy theory that voting by mail causes fraud.”
And the statistics back that statement up. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, found 143 voter fraud convictions out of 250 million mail-in ballots cast since 2000. That works out to about eight cases per year, nationwide.
If you are voting by mail, there are three easy ways to make sure your ballot counts.
1. Fill it out properly. Don’t go outside the lines or make any stray markings on the ballot.
2. Sign your envelope and make sure the signature matches what you have on file.
3. And vote early. Experts say it’s the best way to make sure your vote counts.