This November I will be mailing an absentee ballot for the US presidential election. It is the fourth time I’ve voted this way. In 12 years, the process remains old fashioned, despite the abundance of better options available.
Once every 4 years, I receive an email from my voting district in the States. Attached is an excel file with a list of candidates and a form to print out. The form consists of tightly-spaced rows with no margins. After reviewing the excel sheet, I print the form. Then hand write in my selections.
Once every 4 years, I feel irritated about the length and clunkiness of the US voting process. Prior to receiving my voting information, I must register anew for each election.
This year, a local chapter of Democrats Abroad contacted me with an easy way to register. I felt encouraged that I could fill out and submit the form on my phone. Until I read the fine print. One annoying step left. I have to print it out and send a paper copy. This isn’t the same process as in other States.
Why US Voting Isn’t Standardized
Voting in the US is problematic for many reasons. However, one of the biggest challenges is the lack of standardization in the process. Every State, and sometimes even districts within States, does things differently. States have different timelines about how soon a person can register to vote prior to an election. States have different methods of voting ranging from electronic to pen & paper, plus everything in between.
I couldn’t think about all the issues caused by a lack of standardization without also considering who establishes the standards. Or who should be establishing them. Or if there is one method of voting that could be used by everyone (i.e., in-person vs. electronic vs. paper, etc.).
Why Can’t US Voting Be Modernized?
In 2020, I’m amazed mail-in votes are a popular alternative to voting in-person. It makes sense to think about maintaining social distancing for November. However, why aren’t modern alternatives being considered such as voting electronically? What about being able to register electronically without the added annoyance of also mailing a paper copy?
So much information, disinformation, and misinformation is already flying around about the 2020 US Presidential Elections. Perhaps it has made people distrustful of modern, technology-driven solutions. And sometimes the best way to counter cyber threats is with a low-tech solution, like paper mail-in ballots.