Let’s talk about vote by mail (vbm) or absentee ballots this week. First, the two terms are interchangeable; no distinctions exist. When you request an absentee ballot, you will receive a ballot that allows you to vote in the comfort of your home. It’s a useful tool, but in areas that are unaccustomed to vbm, it shouldn’t be the sole source of participation. We need massive education on vbm to assuage fears. Here’s what you need to know to make a clear decision:
Currently, 5 states conduct all elections via mail, with high participation rates and no problems with fraud.
Around 30 states allow voters to request ballots for any reason, which is generally referred to as “no excuse” vbm.
It’s the remaining 15 that have requirements, such as only people of a certain age or witness requirements, that make it especially onerous to vote.
Generally, voters of color use vbm at a lesser rate than white voters. We like to vote in-person. We want to see our votes cast and counted. We also tend to have a higher rejection rate of our vbm ballots. Thus, the reluctance to use it. If people of color don’t use vbm, why all the fuss? Well, it increases turnout. Some politicians don’t want more people to participate, which is why we MUST vote. Make sure that you’re registered and learn your voting options.
If you are interested in more information on vbm, here’s a messaging guide from @adv_project and a report @demos that have good information.