Mail-In Voting Helps Increase Voter Accessibility


Courtesy of Philadelphia Magazine

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court should not overturn mail-in voting.

Eric White, Staff Writer

On Feb. 16, 2022, Commonwealth Court Senior Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt issued a Supreme Court decision for Pennsylvania that would prevent mail-in ballots from being utilized in future elections. 

NBC Philadelphia stated that, for now, the mail-in ballots are safe, as the decision was halted by other officials, saying, “Pennsylvania’s mail-in voting law will remain in place, at least for the near future, despite a state judge’s order that would have made it expire in two weeks, the state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.”

Absentee ballots have a long history. They were first put in place to allow enlisted members of the Armed Forces to cast their vote from locations outside the United States, while also being used by civilians at the end of the 19th century. They have historically been utilized to help displaced citizens cast their vote and participate in the election, and thus, are more relevant than ever in the modern era.

Mail-in voting is a much-needed system that increases the accessibility of making electoral decisions in the United States. If elections are to be considered a true representation of the United States’ population, then it is absolutely necessary to make voting as easy as possible in order to assist citizens without the ability to vote in person.

Why, then, was mail-in voting almost removed from our electoral system? Often, it’s claimed that mail-in voting leads to an increased likelihood of election fraud, though there is no concrete evidence to support this.

In fact, election fraud is exceedingly rare, no matter the case. The Brennan Center for Justice performed a study of previous elections in 2007 that found the rate of voter fraud was incredibly low in general. The report “reviewed elec­tions that had been metic­u­lously stud­ied for voter fraud, and found incid­ent rates between 0.0003 percent and 0.0025 percent.” Even in these very rare incidents, much of the disparity was later found to be due to improper counting or mistakes in voting systems, rather than intentional fraud.

Pennsylvania in particular has had a rocky history with “no-excuse mail-in voting,” or being able to cast a ballot by mail without an officially recognized excuse, like being overseas. It was only legalized in Pennsylvania in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is in sharp contrast to Washington State, the first state that allowed mail-in ballots of this variety to be accepted in 1974. There are multiple additional states that cast all elections by mail, including Oregon, Utah, Hawaii, California, Nevada and Colorado.

Voting by mail allows America’s most vulnerable citizens to cast their votes. It allows disabled individuals, who may struggle to leave the house or get to a voting center, to vote. Low-income citizens who work multiple jobs, have children to take care of or who lack access to a car can all be given the opportunity to be counted in elections, when they previously may not have even bothered to vote. 

During the pandemic, the use of mail voting increased drastically, showing that this type of voting can also help immunocompromised individuals who feel election centers are not safe for them, as well. 

In order to have a truly representative election, it is imperative that the opportunity to vote is granted to as many citizens as possible, especially those belonging to groups whom voting may be difficult for. As such, mail-in voting should remain in place in the United States to make voting as accessible to as many Americans as it can be. It would be a complete violation of justice to make any attempt to remove this system from practice.