Mail-in ballots keep swing states busy in 2020 Presidential Election


Nov. 6, 2020 — Three days after Election Day, the United States has yet to elect a new president. Multiple swing states are still counting their mail-in ballots, leaving Americans all over the country filled to the brim with nerves and anxiety.

At the end of the week, Alaska, Nevada, Georgia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania are still counting ballots and have not awarded their electoral votes to either candidate, according to the Associated Press, which has an experienced decision desk that tracks and projects results. As of Thursday evening, former Vice President Joe Biden is sitting pretty right now with 264 electoral votes, only six votes away from a win. President Trump, on the other hand, trails his opponent with a total of 214 electoral votes. 

Aside from Alaska, the races in the other four final states are quite close. Biden is ahead in Nevada by only 7,647 votes. Trump is leading by 22,567 votes in Georgia, 76,701 votes in North Carolina and 164,418 votes in Pennsylvania.

Voter turnout is breaking records across the country. The United States Elections Project found that Americans have cast a record breaking amount of votes for the 2020 presidential election. On Wednesday, Joe Biden broke Obama’s record for the most votes received to a presidential candidate.

Mail-in ballots have certainly helped boost voter turnout, said Rudy Alamillo, a political science professor at Western Washington University.

“Using data from Washington, Oregon and Utah, they found that mail-in voting overall increased turnout by about two and a half to three percent,” Alamillo said. “It’s not a huge increase, but it’s noticeable.”

Alamillo said that especially considering the effects of COVID-19, Americans have taken advantage of not having to stand in line for hours on end, and chose to vote by mail.

“In an election as close as this, I think it probably made a difference by allowing folks to vote without having to wait in line for several hours or having to worry about catching COVID-19,” Alamillo said. 

According to an Oct. 9 study done by Pew Research Center, Trump supporters are more likely to vote in person, while Biden supporters tend to vote absentee or by mail.

“Trump supporters are more than twice as likely as Biden supporters to say they plan to vote in person on Election Day,” the study reads. “By contrast, 51% of Biden supporters say they plan to vote by mail or absentee.” The study surveyed registered voters and was conducted from Sept. 30 to Oct. 5.

Will Casey, communications director of the Washington State Democratic Party, has also seen a trend with mail-in ballots. Casey said that in response to COVID-19, mail-in ballots have been especially popular with Democrats.

“We’ve seen much more of a skew towards Democrats, people who are taking the pandemic seriously, and therefore voting by mail,” Casey said.

In some states, mail-in ballots take the longest to count, which is why Americans are still having to wait for the last few states to announce a winner.

In April, Trump told MSNBC, “I think mail-in voting is horrible, it’s corrupt.”

Trump has been very open about his dislike for mail-in ballots, and even tweeted in June that the 2020 election was “rigged,” calling it “the scandal of our times.” 

Regardless of his views, the President himself has voted by mail on multiple occasions.

Nevertheless, the 2020 presidential election has left Americans feeling uneasy. Whatcom Republicans Trump campaign coordinator Jim McKinney said that he is worried about the people’s trust in the election process.

 “My biggest concern is not with one party or another, but people’s trust and faith in the system is certainly going to be tested,” McKinney said. “That’s never healthy for a republic.”

Despite how long it’s taken the United States to count such a large quantity of mail-in ballots, the Associated Press reported in July that fraud is not a legitimate issue: “Indeed, election experts widely say that all forms of voter fraud are rare. The Brennan Center for Justice in 2017 ranked the risk of ballot fraud at infinitesimal 0.00004% to 0.0009%, based on studies of past elections.”