Mail-in voting is awesome

Published: September 10, 2020

Author: Luann D'Agostino

Very few good things have come from the current pandemic, but I count mail-in voting in Delaware among them. Thanks to the General Assembly passing HB 346 (but no thanks to our current representative, Mike Smith, who decided that actually taking this vote wasn’t important enough for his constituents), all Delawareans can vote by mail in the statewide primary and general elections this year. The provision will need to be renewed for use in 2022 and beyond, and it should. Here’s why.

First, I know that a lot of you like going to the polls to vote. Me too! It’s fun to see people from around the community showing up to perform their civic duties. I’ve run into people that I hadn’t seen in years at the polls. There is some sense of community, but there is also a sense of urgency; you have to get in and get out and move on with the rest of your day. No one wants to wait in line, and the polling places aren’t exactly the most comfortable to hang out in. And unlike a caucus, we don’t really encourage vigorous discussion at a polling place; voting in our elections is very private.

Many people don’t have the luxury of being able to be in the state for election day; they may be on a work trip or visiting a sick relative. Emergencies (medical, personal, or work-related) can come up without warning and prevent people from being physically here to vote. Some people can’t take enough time off to leave work and vote; some people don’t have enough time between childcare duties to make it out to the polls. Voting at a polling place can be fun, but it is also a luxury that not everyone can afford.

With mail-in voting, your ballot comes to you, well before the election. You’ll have time to look it over, to see all of the races that apply to you, to look up all the candidates and do your research. Yes, you can technically do this today, but it’s a hassle to figure out your various districts and reference the state’s websites around candidates, and inevitably you’ll get to the polls and see a race that you weren’t expecting (did you remember to research the insurance commissioner? the state auditor? the sheriff?). With mail-in voting, when you receive your ballot, you’ll not only have the list of all of the races that you can vote for, you’ll also have the list of choices for each. You can, at your leisure, research each of the candidates, consult with your friends, your family, the Internet, whatever, and mark your choices as you make your decisions. Maybe you need another day to track down that school board candidate. Maybe you need another day to check the incumbent’s record. Maybe you need another day to sleep on your choices. With mail-in voting, you can have a few of those days. Depending on how soon the ballot gets to you, you might even have a few weeks. With mail-in voting, you can vote on your own time.

Mail-in voting provides a lot more opportunities to vote for a lot more people. It’s awesome. You can check your ballot’s status online, too, so you’ll know exactly when the state has received it, validated it, and locked in your vote.

And if you forget to mail it, well, you can still show up on election day. They’ll confirm that your ballot never arrived, and you’ll be allowed to vote at the polls.