Five Ways to Ensure Your Ballot is Counted
By Anthony Maleno
The 2020 election is incomparable to previous races, all the way down to how Americans will vote. Mail-in voting stretches as far back as the Civil War, yet nationwide mail-in ballots of this quantity are unparalleled. Illegitimate claims from President Trump and the Republican party over the validity of such votes confirms how conservatives are counting on the rejection of hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots. To achieve sweeping blue victories, demands for a high voter turnout have only escalated the need for ballots to be completed correctly.
States across the country have varying procedures for mail-in ballots. Pennsylvania, a swing state with multiple lawsuits concerning the upcoming election, has officials warning that nearly a hundred thousand votes could be thrown out due to innocent mistakes. Pennsylvania is not alone—Arizona, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin are also seeing a surge in voting lawsuits about the fight for limiting and expanding vote-by-mail. Below are five ways you can verify your vote will count.
1. Naked Ballots
A primary worry is the problem of naked ballots. 16 states require your ballot to be sealed in an additional secrecy envelope: Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.
2. Ink Color and Markings
This secondary concern is an easy way to have your vote thrown out. Avoid unnecessary marks on your ballot and verify you’re using the right pen as well. Each state will include instructions on what you can and cannot use to fill out a ballot, so keep an eye out for such rules.
3. Signature Matching
A signature is required on every mail-in ballot, and a system of signature matching is employed by 32 states to avoid voter fraud. Remember that your driver’s license or voter registration signature could be used for comparison when filling out your ballot in the following states: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
4. Election Day Turn In
Some voters have expressed anxiety over their ballot making it to the right place at the right time and are preferring to hand it in on election day. Contact your local elections office to see if this is an option before the mailing deadline to guarantee your vote is on the right path.
5. Mail-in and Drop Off Deadlines
Deadlines vary from state to state and also how you plan to return your ballot. A late ballot solidifies a rejected vote. All deadlines can be found here.
Laws and guidelines about mail-in voting are threadbare and inconsistent, so it is imperative that voters do their own research for their state and county procedures. Make sure to thoroughly read the instructions given with your ballot and contact your elections and voting office if you have any questions or issues with your voting form.
The American people can make the 2020 election a standout in voter participation, but only if they can precisely tread through the complex vote-by-mail system that stands today.
Anthony Maleno is a freshman from Erie, Pennsylvania majoring in Political Science on a Pre-Law track.