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Warning Raised about US Election 2020 Postal Ballots

Peter Miller of the Brennan Center for Justice warns that expanded postal ballots in the 2020 Election could disenfranchise millions

Published on April 16, 2020

An expert in voting and elections has raised concerns that a sizeable shift towards postal votes in the 2020 US Election could disenfranchise millions of voters. In a article posted on the LSE US Center website, Peter Miller of the Brennan Center for Justice explains that an increase in postal votes could lead to administrative issues that effectively prevent votes from being correctly counted.

According to a recent Pew Research Center Survey cited by Mr Miller, in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, "66 percent of respondents would feel uncomfortable going to a polling place to vote". The US Vote Foundation also recently called for an expansion of Mail Ballots in the US, with the Foundation's Chairman, Michael Steele, saying that "Ensuring voters can vote from home is a responsible and forward-thinking policy action that Congress should include in its response to the current public health situation ... It is impossible for voters to predict whether they will be healthy and able to vote in-person. They should be assured they can vote safely with an absentee vote-by-mail ballot."

However, Mr Miller's article raises several potential administrative problems with mail ballots which could hinder their availability and validity. Focusing on the growth of mail ballots in western states, Miller looks at the long-term process required to implement the tools required to introduce mail ballot systems. States in the West rely much more heavily on mail ballots than those in the Midwest, Northeast and East, and experience indicates that the short time available between now and the 2020 US Presidential Election won't be enough to introduce a reliable and effective mail ballot operation.

Closing his article, Mr Miller writes "While mail ballots may be an appealing way to conduct an election under the conditions of COVID-19, there are complex administrative processes for states to fully consider before they abolish polling places entirely under any circumstances, and certainly not in the midst of a highly competitive presidential election."

To read Peter Miller's article, go to https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/usappblog/2020/04/15/why-switching-to-voting-by-mail-for-the-2020-presidential-election-could-disenfranchise-millions/

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