Due to the corona pandemic, more US citizens are voting by mail this year than ever before. President Trump has been trying to discredit postal voting for months. A legal nightmare looms after November 3.
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In this year’s US presidential election, a very large number of citizens will vote by mail over the corona pandemic – which poses many problems. Answers to the most important questions:
What is the importance of voting by mail?
The number of votes by mail has increased enormously this year due to the corona pandemic: many voters send their ballots by mail for fear of contamination in the polling station. About 33 million people voted in the 2016 presidential election, which equates to about one in four votes cast. This year, the number of voters per post could double or even triple because of the corona pandemic.
More than 90 million voters signed up for postal voting this year, according to the University of Florida’s US Elections Project. According to this information, more than 46 million completed ballots have already been received by the electoral authorities. Supporters of the Democratic Party of candidate Joe Biden are much more likely to vote by mail than supporters of President Donald Trump’s Republicans.
What difficulties are there?
The increase in the number of votes per post is an enormous logistical challenge. The election organizers have to send out many more ballots on time and count them later than usual. Delays can mean millions of votes are ignored. Over the summer, allegations were made against President Donald Trump that he was deliberately trying to weaken the post in order to torpedo the post election.
Mail voting is prone to error even in normal years. Ballot papers can be rejected due to minor form errors, for example by using the wrong envelope. Another problem: counting votes by mail takes a lot of time. Counting all votes can take days or even weeks in some states.
While many states require a postal ballot to arrive at the polling station no later than Nov. 3, in other states a postmark from election day is sufficient. In important Pennsylvania, for example, absentee ballots are considered even if received within three days of election day. However, a lawsuit by Trump’s Republicans recently failed in the U.S. Supreme Court. In contrast, the Supreme Court on Monday rejected an extension of the deadline in the equally controversial state of Wisconsin.
Is there a threat of election fraud on a large scale?
Trump has been campaigning against postal voting for months, claiming he should be denied re-election through massive electoral fraud. Authorities and experts strongly disagree: fraud in postal voting is extremely rare. Trump-appointed FBI chief Chris Wray made it clear to Congress in September that there has never been a large-scale national electoral fraud in US history.
There are always mistakes. Election offices in Ohio and New York sent tens of thousands of incorrect ballots. But that is not electoral fraud.
What does postal voting mean for election night?
Usually, the future president of the US is determined on election night. This year it could turn out differently due to the large number of votes per post. Especially in tight races in important countries it can take a while to determine the winner. So patience is needed from the media and voters. But Trump has repeatedly called for the election results to be announced on election night.
Observers think one scenario in particular is possible: Because a particularly large number of Democratic voters are voting by mail and do not want to go to the polling place on Nov. 3, post-election polls could initially indicate a Trump victory. However, this can be reversed after all postal ballots have been counted. Such a Biden victory, in turn, is likely to be used by Trump as an opportunity for fresh allegations of fraud.
Is there a legal nightmare looming?
In the run-up to November 3, there were hundreds of complaints about postal voting. Trump’s Republicans have gone to court in many places to take action against the corona-related expansion. After election day, there should be another wave of lawsuits. The Republicans, as well as the Democrats, were able to question the election results in numerous individual cases due to minor technical issues.
The outcome of the election could eventually end up in the Supreme Court, which decided the presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore twenty years ago. Since the appointment of Constitutional Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Conservative Supreme Court justices have had a clear six to three majority – a strategic advantage for Trump.