How Safe is Your Vote?


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Maddie Pass

​2020 has been anything but a normal year; adjusting to the “new normal” and learning to live in these “unprecedented” times has been a struggle. The upcoming presidential election is not exempt from these extraordinary times. The fear of coronavirus has caused many voters to use mail-in ballots, still using their voices in an alternative way. However, after potential hacks in the 2016 election, just how safe and reliable are mail-in ballots? 

Many experts are telling Americans not to worry about how reliable mail-in ballots are because they are perfectly safe.  However, President Trump is questioning just how safe and reliable they truly are. Every state allows mail-in ballots, with only five states requiring excuses, but can they disrupt the election process? 

In Louisville, Kentucky, postal inspectors are investigating 112 unopened ballots found in a dumpster. 112 votes, possibly thrown away and not counted towards the election. One person’s mistake or intentional actions may have caused 112 people to lose their voice in the election. 

Losing ballots found in dumpsters is not the only way mail-in voters could lose their voices. If your signature doesn’t match your old signature— you know, the one you signed at 16 on your driver’s license even though you can’t vote until 18—your ballot will be disregarded and the vote will not count. If you do not follow the directions on the ballot, such as eligible handwriting, matching to the correct numbers, and properly sealing the ballot, to perfection, your vote will be thrown out. These directions may leave you thinking that everyone can follow them without making a mistake on the ballots, until you remember half of America believes a national pandemic killing over 200,000 Americans is a hoax. 

Aside from Americans making mistakes on their ballots, there is the ever-present threat of international tampering by countries such as Russia and Iran. On Wednesday, Oct. 21, the FBI held a national press conference telling Americans not to fear, but Iran had been able to successfully steal voter information and send harassing and threatening fake emails to millions of Americans. 

So, aside from potential issues like people throwing your votes in the trash or not writing the same as 16-year-old you, there is now the possibility Iran is going to vote for you and decide our next president from your email—great. 

If that does not make you question the reliability of mail-in ballots, the FBI also mentioned Russia has created fake advertisements pretending to be American Democrats against Biden, all in a lure to get Trump re-elected. Totally normal, safe actions for a presidential election! 

The lines at the polls are long, and some people either have to work on Election Day,  do not have a babysitter for their child or do not want to risk the ongoing coronavirus. There are many valid reasons for not being able to vote in person; however, this does not make mail-in ballots the perfect solution. For instance, I requested my ballot the last week of September, and now, the middle of October, about a week and half from the election, my ballot is nowhere to be found. When checking my state’s website, it says my ballot was delivered to me Oct. 6, almost two full weeks ago. I even called my state’s election board and the lady on the phone checked their offices and found my empty, unopened ballot sitting right there on her desk. Yet, it was claimed online to have been delivered two weeks ago. Such errors could have cost me my voice in the election. 

No one can truly predict who will win the election. However, one thing is for sure: thousands of American voices will not be heard due to the multitude of errors with the mail-in ballot voting system. The method of mail-in ballots may even completely change the results of the election from reality of public opinion. Mail-in ballots are not safe and cannot be trusted to uphold the values and needs of the American people.