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Securing Votes and Voting Access

Updated: Mar 15

Big Picture


The Presidential election of 2020 brought to light the need to balance improving voter access through such avenues as mail-in ballots, while also preventing fraud and even the appearance of it. Ensuring our elections are secure and trusted is foundational to our nation's identity as the leader of the free world. Even the appearance of voter fraud damages the credibility of the United States, not only around the world - but more fundamentally - in the eyes of “We the People.” This requires the focus and energy of our federal and state legislatures to ensure that election officials have the resources they need to secure our elections and restore faith in the process. 


Operative Definitions


  1. Voting Access: Every voter has reasonable access to an authorized means of voting in a general or state election which does not require excessive or prohibitive action to cast their vote. 

  2. Ballot Drop Boxes: A drop box is a secure, locked structure operated by election officials where voters may deliver their ballots from the time they receive them in the mail up to the time polls close on Election Day. Ballot drop boxes can be staffed or unstaffed, temporary or permanent.

  3. Ballot Stuffing: a form of electoral fraud in which a greater number of ballots are cast than the number of people who legitimately voted.


Important Facts and Statistics


  1. 30% of Americans, as of June 2023, believe the 2020 U.S. Presidential election was fraudulent (this has stayed consistent since November 2020).

  2. 37 states require some form of identification to vote in person. 

  3. 41 states allow online voter registration


Seven-point Plan


(1) Make a non-photo ID required to vote in person.

States would be required to provide a state-issued non-photo ID to each resident. Registering to vote already requires either a state-issued ID or other documentation such as a utility bill or bank statement with the name and current residence of the person registering. Requiring non-photo ID is a reasonable expectation that states can provide to their citizens which would mitigate concerns that some residents cannot acquire ID, as well as increase confidence in having secure elections. These IDs would ensure that anyone attempting voter fraud would need to go through an extra layer of verification by state officials. States would be required to offer these IDs at all Department of Motor Vehicle locations, City Hall and government locations that conduct LiveScan services that conduct background checks. Additionally, states would be required to provide roving mobile services to residential neighborhoods that are further than 10 miles from any of these locations. 


(2) States automatically provide “No-excuse absentee voting.”

Currently, only eight states automatically offer mail-in ballots to all registered voters. Requiring all states to offer this would increase voter rights and turnout by making it easier to vote. This is especially true for those with limited transportation options, as well as single parents and others who are more limited in accessing in-person voting.


(3) Require signature verification on all mail-in ballots.

To prevent potential fraud occurring with increased use of mail-in ballots, all ballots must be verified with the signatures on the state-issued ID that was used when registering to vote. 


(4) Expand the number of ballot drop boxes with enhanced security.

With an increased number of drop boxes, the ability for voters to cast their ballot increases. These boxes should be dispersed equally throughout cities and counties to ensure every voter has reasonable access to them. Increased security at the boxes would include video surveillance to ensure no ballot stuffing occurs. Ballot envelopes will incorporate barcodes that are scanned at the drop box when deposited, confirming the date and time of the action. This, along with the video surveillance, will allow election officials to confirm the situation surrounding any suspect ballots or group of ballots. 


(5) Require mail-in/absentee ballots to be postmarked no later than five days before the election.

By ensuring the prompt arrival of mail-in ballots, a final accurate count will be achieved on election night, reducing the claims of fraud or impropriety in the counting process. The increased availability of ballot boxes would allow those who are unable to mail the ballots on time to still participate. 


(6) Make election day a national holiday.

A national holiday would allow more people to participate in the voting process and ensure they have the time to vote. This would likely increase voter turnout as it would increase interest in voting, the ability to reach a poll site on voting day and allow for more people to volunteer to assist with the duties at voting sites.


(7) Increase awareness of the election and ballot counting process.

Much of the public is unaware of the process for tallying the votes and securing elections. Instructing the public in the months before the election through ads on T.V. and social media would help to expand understanding and trust in the election process. This would help mitigate any false claims of voter fraud after the election and help deter people from abusing knowingly false claims. 


Why This Initiative Is Important


Election security must be balanced with ensuring voting rights and access. Given the level of mistrust in the 2020 election, it is imperative to improve election security and voting rights laws which, together, expand the pie of potential voters while simultaneously making our elections more secure. This is not a zero-sum game and the above proposals show how. 


First, the security of both modes of voting - in-person and mail-in - is strengthened. Voter ID is required to vote in person, mail-in ballots are signature verified against state-issued ID and ballot drop boxes have enhanced security measures preventing tampering and dumping. 


Second, voter access is improved through expanding mail-in voting, expanding ballot drop box locations and making election day a national holiday. Additionally, the state will be required to increase its capability in administering non-photo IDs to all who need them, minimizing the requirement's impact on preventing people from voting. 


Third, by increasing awareness of how votes are counted and the process of securing elections undertaken by our election officials, voters' trust in the process will increase. Expanding the reach of factual information regarding election security will be paramount in ensuring that the next election is trusted, regardless of the outcome and who might challenge the results. 


Our nation is at a decision point when it comes to mistrust and division. Securing our election, while improving voter access, will help lower the rhetoric and reduce the risk of significant animosity - regardless of who wins the 2024 election. 

 

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author. 

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Elijah Ramos
Elijah Ramos
18 de mar.


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