Election time always causes a lot of debate and controversy. While much of it usually stems from who people are voting for, the current election has a new issue- voting by mail.
Due to COVID-19, mail-in voting is being pushed more as a way to keep polls safer and more socially distanced. Despite this, many have shown concern about the possibilities of fraud from mailing in votes.
This includes President Donald Trump, who once stated that he thought voting by mail would cause votes to go missing due to biases of mail workers.
IUP students had their own opinions on the issue, but overall, most find it a safe option.
Charles Corrado (sophomore, political science) and Elizabeth Stash (sophomore, kinesiology) both dealt with voting by mail in the past.
“I think it’s safe. I’ve done it before,” Stash said.
Corrado was even able to give an insider’s look on the option due to helping during the 2018 midterms.
“Mail-in voting is absolutely safe,” he said. “I worked the polls for 2018 and hand counted the mail-in votes.”
When counting votes, Corrado said there was no chance that anyone committed voter fraud, nor did they throw away anyone’s vote.
Some students who believe the option is safe also said they think not having the option to send votes by mail would cause an issue of privilege. One of these students is Rose Mazey (senior, graphic design).
“I'm voting by mail and so is everyone else I know,” she said. “People who say it isn’t safe just don’t want everyone to vote.”
Her statement comes from the basis that not everyone is able to get to polling places. Absentee voting was first enacted in 1902 for the 1903 election. Though fraud has been questioned before with this type of voting, it has been most controversial this year.
According to The Washington Post, the 2016 and 2018 elections had a rate of 0.0025 percent in mail fraud. A full report can be found at washingtonpost.com/politics/minuscule-number-of-potentially-fraudulent-ballots-in-states-with-universal-mail-voting-undercuts-trump-claims-about-election-risks.
Alex Edmunson (political science) said it depends on what is most convenient.
“I think you should be able to vote however is most convenient for you. I send all my bills through the mail, I’m fine with sending my vote,” he said. “However, if it’s not going to be counted in time, I’d recommend voting in person.”
Though the majority of the IUP community who commented were all for mail-in voting, there were still those who had doubts.
“I believe that mail-in voting is absolutely not safe,” Al Fiedler said. “I will go to my polling location no matter what.”
Fiedler said there were enough controversies of past mail-in votes that made him sure of this decision.
“Look at what happened in New York this year. Look at all the places where they found boxes of uncounted votes.”
Despite its controversy, mail-in voting has increased in the U.S. over time. It has risen from 7.8 percent in 1996 to 20.9 percent in 2016, according to Pew Research Center. Pew has also found that 70 percent of people believe others have the right to vote-by-mail if they choose, similar to what Edmunson said.
Absentee voting in Pennsylvania begins Sept. 14 and runs through Nov. 2. The deadline to request a absentee ballot is Tuesday, Oct. 27 at 5 p.m. Voting in person will take place Tuesday, Nov. 3.
To find your polling place and to see if you are registered, visit www.pavoterservices.pa.gov/Pages/VoterRegistrationApplication. You must register by Oct. 19 in order to vote.