Mail-In v. Absentee

2020 | Week of August 24 | Radio Transcript #1374

President Trump has repeatedly said he thinks a mail-in election is fraught with the possibility for fraud, would delay the final outcome of the election, and is unnecessary given the current COVID situation in the vast majority of states, a position supported by recently by Dr. Fauci, one of Trump’s leading COVID experts and advisers.

Presidential candidate Joe Biden thinks otherwise, claiming a mail-in election is safe and secure. He appears to be fine with his party’s push to give the United States Postal Service additional taxpayer funding to facilitate such nationwide voting, and believes voting in person in November isn’t a good thing given the virus.

The president has tried on numerous occasions to distinguish between a mail-in election and absentee ballot voting.  The distinction he is making is accurate and important.

First, and very importantly, at this time Wisconsin does not have a mail-in election. A mail-in election is where every eligible voter in the state is mailed a ballot, whether or not they requested a ballot by mail. Right now, only five states have what is referred to as all-mail elections.

Absentee ballot voting done by mail generally requires that a voter requests an absentee ballot be mailed to them. That is what Wisconsin has. No actual ballots are mailed to voters in our state until and unless an absentee ballot request form has been filled out, returned to the municipal clerk and approved there for a ballot to be mailed to the voter.

A twist on the mail-in versus absentee ballot issue is where either local municipalities or even the state mails all registered voters an application for an absentee ballot in an effort to encourage electors to do an absentee ballot and discourage them from voting in-person. The Wisconsin Election Commission earlier this summer made a decision to do this for this fall’s election.  To reiterate, these are absentee ballot request forms, not actual ballots, that are being sent to voters.  Voters can choose to get an absentee ballot by filling out and returning the form, or they can just ignore the mailing and plan to vote in-person, which can be done early or on the day of election.

Across the country, liberal progressives are pushing hard for the state legislatures and governors to pass laws mandating a mail-in election for this fall.  The likelihood of that happening in Wisconsin is basically nonexistent.

New York recently tried a massive mail-in election with its June 23 primary. It took over a month to count the ballots.  This kind of delay is what the president has referred to as part of his dislike for mail-in elections. In addition, the rejection rate was significantly higher than for a normal non-mail-in election

If many states did decide to go to a mail-in election for this fall, it is conceivable and likely that the ballots are not all counted and the results finalized by election day, November 3. Interestingly, if the election is up in the air by January 20, then congress gets to step in, according to the 20th Amendment to the constitution, and can declare “who shall then act as president, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected.” In other words, Congress would get to determine an interim president. So, just in case you think there aren’t any more twists and turns all this can take, you now know there are.

What’s really important in all this is that individual voters get a plan to vote that ensures their vote is counted. The surest way not to have one’s vote count is to not vote.  What happens if, for instance, because of fear of fraud, many conservatives don’t cast an absentee ballot in Wisconsin—and then, at the very last minute, something happens; and we are told no one gets to vote in-person at the polls on Election Day? If such a decision happened late enough, many conservative votes wouldn’t be cast—because of a horrible combination of fear and of not thinking and planning ahead. We don’t anticipate that we will be told we can’t vote in person, but we came very close to that happening this past spring. So, we can’t say we haven’t been forewarned.

In light of all the election confusion and uncertainty, Wisconsin Family Council urges voters to get a plan to vote and execute that plan. Think and look ahead. For election information and important election-related dates, visit  Remember…every election matters. Every vote in every election matters. Make sure your vote counts!

This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

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