Unprecedented Voting Difficulties


Photograph courtesy of https://www.apmreports.org/

The 2020 presidential election process has not gone untouched by this year’s manifold obstacles and events. The pandemic, specifically, has thrown the act of voting off-course. Voters are torn between the risk of COVID-19 infection and the risk of putting their trust in the U.S. Postal Service and election offices to handle the overwhelming influx of mail-in ballots. Many people still had not received their mail-in ballots as of Oct. 29 as a result of marked USPS delays, and the chances of the ballots being sorted and counted before the deadline have been decreasing by the day. According to The New York Times, at least 10 percent of ballots are “not being sorted in a timely way.” Ballots received after each state’s deadline may not be counted, even if they are late due to USPS delays or causes outside of the voter’s control.

            The problem of distrust with regard to mail-in voting is compounded by Trump’s attempts to invalidate it in the eyes of the American people by falsely claiming that it is rife with fraud, despite the fact that he himself has voted by mail in previous elections without opposition or problems. This unfounded skepticism also exacerbates the quandary for elderly and other high-risk voters, who may have no other choice but to vote remotely.

            Nationwide, there have been heated legal battles over state voting regulations in response to the unprecedented number of American citizens voting by mail in this election during the pandemic. It is also a possibility that the election results will not be available until weeks after Election Day.

            Voters in Pennsylvania, Florida and other states received malicious emails allegedly from radical right-wing organization “Proud Boys,” threatening them if they did not vote for Donald Trump. John Ratcliffe, Director of National Intelligence, claims that this was an attempt by Iran or Russia to invoke distrust in the 2020 presidential election. Both Russia and Iran deny involvement. In spite of this, alongside Russia’s previous meddling in U.S. elections, Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Chris Krebs insists that this election will be highly protected against foreign interference: “We’ve got a lot of confidence that the ballot’s as secure as it’s ever been. We’ve been working on this for three and a half years.” Other federal agencies, such as the FBI and National Security agency, make this a top priority and are taking additional measures to ensure security.

            On social media sites such as Twitter, videos and images have gone viral of voters wrapped around multiple blocks waiting to vote. Some expressed outrage at the limited number of polling stations, closed locations and extensive wait times. Others allege that this is a contemporary, intentional act of “voter suppression.” Although rare, other places have experienced broken voting machines and miscellaneous technical issues.

            Luckily, nonpartisan watchdog groups such as Common Cause exist to help monitor these situations, advocating voter representation. Although this election is chaotic and difficult to navigate for voters, the vast majority of people will be successful in getting counted.