by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Yuval Levin explains for the American Enterprise Institute why officials ought to start explaining now that election results might not be clear on the first Tuesday in November.
We have also seen that voting by mail can slow the counting of votes. Particularly in close races, this sometimes makes it impossible to declare a result on election night. Occasionally, as some primary races have shown us this year, it can take days or even weeks. But the fact that results take longer does not mean those results are tainted. The work of counting mail-in votes, and especially of verifying signatures and resolving disputes, can take time, but this is precisely the work of assuring that results are legitimate and reliable.
It’s essential that public officials help the American public understand this in advance of the fall election, to help voters see that the fact that results may not be available within hours doesn’t mean the results aren’t reliable. In other words, public officials need to be conveying precisely the opposite of the message the president delivered in his tweet. They need to convey that message because it is the truth: There simply is no pattern of elevated fraud with mail-in-voting.
Voting by mail—whether by absentee ballots (which must be requested by voters) or various universal vote-by-mail systems (where all voters receive ballots by mail)—has been pretty common in this century: In both the 2016 presidential election and the 2018 congressional elections, about a quarter of all votes were cast by mail. …
… Nor, by the way, is there a clear reason to think that mail-in balloting would advantage Democrats, as Republicans seem implicitly to assume. That view seems well out of date at best. Evidence and analysis in this century suggests that mail-in balloting advantages the two parties roughly evenly, and that it is of particular help to older voters. …