5 Facts About Voting By Mail that Might Surprise You

June 25, 2020

Illustration of a hand putting a ballot into a mailbox

COVID-19 has disrupted pretty much everything in our lives, from how we interact with friends and family to how we shop, work, and plan for the future. It’s had a huge impact on how we vote, too. The presidential primary season has been thrown into disarray, with many primaries postponed and one even canceled (although a judge later ordered that it be reinstated). In Wisconsin voters had to stand in line for hours, risking their health to cast a ballot. 

No American should have to choose between their health and exercising their right to vote. So, with Election Day on the way, we’ve joined hundreds of other businesses in demanding that Congress ensure that voters are protected. One part of the solution? Giving every American the option to vote by mail.

Take Action Now!

Sign the Vote Safe Letter to Congress
  1. It’s Not a New Idea

    Voting by mail has been in the news a lot lately, but it’s not a new concept. In fact, it’s been used for years, effectively and successfully. Before the pandemic took hold, five states (Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, and Washington) already conducted their elections completely by mail. Also, every state already has a system in place that allows people to vote by mail—it’s called absentee voting. (Members of the military have been using it since the Civil War.) The catch is that sixteen states require voters to provide a reason for why they won’t be able to cast a vote in person. We think that a global pandemic is a pretty good reason! Many of those states agree and are working to change their requirements. 

    We should be clear that absentee voting and voting by mail are not the same thing. Absentee ballots must be requested. A vote-by-mail (VBM) system automatically sends every voter a ballot, no request required, making it easier for every voter to vote—which should be the goal of every democracy, right?

  2. It’ll Keep People Safe

    Much of the US is slowly beginning to “reopen” after hunkering down in quarantine for months, but COVID-19 is not going away. It’s killed more than 100,000 people in the US and many experts expect a second spike in cases this fall now that people are more free to gather in public again. Election Day is November 3, so leaders in every state are understandably thinking about how to make sure people stay healthy. 

    With dozens of cases of COVID-19 potentially linked to voting, the Wisconsin primary showed what can happen if people are forced to vote in person. But lost in all the reporting about Wisconsin was something remarkable: Voter turnout out was actually very high. Why? A record number of absentee ballots. People want to have their voice heard! So let’s make sure that can happen, while keeping everyone safe.

  3. It’s Really Easy

    We’re not kidding: Voting by mail is easy.

    1. Register to vote! Or make sure you’re registered to vote!

    2. Receive your ballot in the mail

    3. Complete the ballot, then pack it up in the provided envelopes

    4. Sign and date the mailing envelope, then put it in the mail

    That’s it!

    Find out your state’s current rules about voting by mail/absentee ballots here.

  4. It Increases Voter Turnout

    Lots of research indicates that voting by mail increases voter turnout. Colorado, for example, saw its turnout jump by more than 9 percentage points after implementing all vote-by-mail elections! (The increases were even higher among young voters and people of color.) The US trails most other developed countries when it comes to turnout—so, pandemic or no pandemic, anything we can do to get more voters voting feels like a no-brainer to us.

  5. It Strengthens Our Democracy

    Since 2000, more than 250 million votes have been cast by mail. Voting by mail is a tested, secure process that many Americans are comfortable with. As the losses from the pandemic continue to mount, we believe that no one should have to risk their health or their life, or the health or life of a loved one, to participate in our democracy.

Take Action Now!

Sign the Vote Safe Letter to Congress

Voting by mail is not perfect—if states do not start preparing very soon for the surge in mailed-in ballots, for example, then there’s a good chance that their regular vote-tabulating infrastructure will be overwhelmed. But it’s safe and effective and will allow many millions of Americans to have their voices heard this November who might have otherwise let concerns about COVID-19 keep them from casting a ballot.

Speaking of November, it’ll be here before we know it. So let’s get going! Join us in telling Congress that you believe voters should never have to choose between their health and their citizenship. When we make voting safe and easy, we make our democracy stronger.