One Big Thing: Do you know the difference between absentee voting and vote by mail?
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What is it?
- Absentee voting is when a voter who cannot physically go to their local polling station (for example: someone serving overseas in the military, overseas for the election or ill) requests a ballot and is subsequently sent one via mail.
- Universal Vote by Mail is the process of sending every registered voter a ballot without a request. Colorado, Oregon, Hawaii, Washington and Utah all already use universal vote by mail as their default voting methods.
- Many states have already pledged to use Universal Vote by Mail in November’s elections in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Georgia recently approved online absentee ballot applications to prevent the confusion that happened during the primary.
Why is it important?
- The main difference is that absentee ballots are requested and then mailed when a person can't vote in person while universal vote by mail is used in the context of policies that allow all registered voters to automatically receive their ballots by mail.
- Brookings Institute demonstrates how neither method of mail in voting will increase elections fraud.
- Despite the differences, states which are not prepared to handle the additional mail in ballots will likely experience delays and difficulty on election day. To prepare, many states are in the process of enhancing voting procedures ahead of the November elections.
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