Mail-in Voting is Safe, Secure and Should Not Be a Political Issue
There is nothing more sacred to our democracy than the right of each American citizen to vote for their representatives in government. Perhaps just as important is the confidence our citizens place in our voting systems that determine who will represent ALL of us. That is why it is imperative that we institute policies that secure each citizen’s right to vote – while safeguarding against fraud and those who wish to undermine our system of elections.
Mail-in voting, available in Pennsylvania since this year’s primary election, offers another option to make your voice heard without worrying about finding time to make it to the polls or the weather on election day. During a health emergency, this option provides a safe alternative to in-person voting and is widely available across the country. In fact, according to the Washington Post, 76 percent of eligible voters – 180 million people – are currently eligible to vote by mail in the Nov. 3 general election.
Disturbingly, some of the very people who utilize vote by mail are trying to cast doubts on its security. That is why it’s important to remember that while no excuse mail-in voting may be new to most Pennsylvanians, it has been used by the U.S. military since Republicans implemented it during the Civil War. Five states now primarily conduct their elections by mail – Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington – while another 28 states allow anyone to do so if they choose. None of these states have reported major instances of voter fraud. According to the New York Times Editorial Board, Oregon has sent out more than 100 million mail-in ballots since 2000 and has documented only about a dozen cases of proven fraud. That’s 0.0000001%. Individuals and organizations, including many Democrats, the Republican National Committee and Lara Trump all agree: voting by mail is safe and secure.
To help add an extra layer of protection for this and future elections, I recently introduced H.B. 2757, legislation that would deter voter fraud by enhancing the maximum penalty for breaking Pennsylvania election law. In Pennsylvania, many of our penalties are less severe and haven’t been updated in decades. For example, my legislation would enhance the penalty for forging or destroying ballots to up to 4 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine. By increasing the maximum possible consequence, we will send a strong message to Pennsylvanians or anyone else wishing to interfere in our democratic process, that while voter fraud may be rare, it’s consequences will be severe.
Please visit www.votespa.com/About-Elections/Pages/Election-Security to learn more about the safeguards that are in place, and why you should have faith in our elections. Protections include requiring all voting machines to have voter-verifiable paper records, cross-checking of names and signatures, safeguards to prevent a person voting multiple times and the list goes on and on with many more checks and balances to make sure your vote counts.
House Bill 2757 is an extra precaution to demonstrate that we value every voter’s right to vote and every single vote cast. This is simply an extra safeguard to maintain the integrity of our elections.
Pennsylvania voters can request a mail-in ballot, register to vote, and receive up-to-date election information for the Nov. 3 election by visiting votespa.com. Please check it out!
State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski serves the 121st Legislative District.