Mail In vs In Person Ballots

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Image Credit: Gerard Nifras

Gerard Nifras, Staff Writer

This was the first Presidential election where the majority of ballots in most states were mailed in. Mail-in ballots are different from the traditional ballot system established decades ago. Because mail-in ballots are new to most people, this process was not without flaws. There have been debates worldwide and in my living room about which is the superior and safest way to pick the US president.

When it comes to voting, eligible voters immediately think of going behind a curtain and choosing their candidate. This familiarity is an advantage among veteran voters. The League of Women Voters of Chicago, Pros & Cons of Mail-in Voting, calls in-person voting “The civic experience of voting with neighbors at a local school, church, or other polling places…” Of course, familiarity with the process and the community gives in-person voting the upper hand. 

However, with its delays, mail-in votes add superfluous complexity to the voting process. A  New York Times article noted “…Some voters in at least 23 states are required to vote provisionally if they initially request a mail ballot but decide to vote in person instead… Provisional voting can slow down lines at the polls, and those ballots are generally the last to be reviewed and counted.” This year, in person voting caused waiting in long lines due to precautions taken because of COVID19. 

Meanwhile, mail-in ballots increased voter participation because voters didn’t have to fret about being too sick or too terrified to vote. This is especially crucial given how fast the virus has spread. The voters were also given the option to vote early and note a petitioner who helped fill and deliver their ballots. However, increased voter turnout delayed the results of the presidential election and was more costly to municipalities. 

A personal disappointment was the underwhelming experience of not placing my ballot in a box for the first time as I anticipated a tremendous feeling of defining the next four years of the country. Overall, it was a decent experience to vote for the president for the first time with my mail-in ballot. Truly, mail-in and in-person voting are equal in influence to determine the next president. In essence, the debate over which medium is best to use will remain unanswered.