The debate continues on how to hold a presidential election while still practicing social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Officials in some states have decided to delay their primary elections until after the outbreak peaks.
Others have had to hold theirs at the height of the pandemic. A prime example was Wisconsin where voters waited in lines, with a 6-foot buffer between them, for hours, to cast their vote.
Originally Wisconsin’s Gov. Tony Evers had decided to postpone the primary election day and extend absentee voting, but that decision was overturned by the courts, Reuters reported.
About 1.3 million votes were cast by absentee ballot in Wisconsin, according to Reuters. That number was more than the total votes cast in the 2016 Democratic primary, the Wisconsin Election Commission revealed to Reuters.
There is one other option, that many states don’t use: the mail-in ballot, a measure that Democratic leaders are asking to be considered. Republicans are pushing back, however, saying that mail-in ballots could be fraudulent, The New York Times reported.
President Donald Trump has said that having early voting and voting by mail, the plan touted by Democrats, “you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again,” the Times reported. He also has admitted that many elderly voters would benefit from casting their votes by mail, but expanding it to everyone “shouldn’t be allowed.”
Absentee Ballots are a great way to vote for the many senior citizens, military, and others who can’t get to the polls on Election Day. These ballots are very different from 100% Mail-In Voting, which is “RIPE for FRAUD,” and shouldn’t be allowed!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 8, 2020
But what is the difference between absentee ballots and mail-in ballots?
Really, not much.
Absentee ballots differ from mail-in ballots pretty much in name only.
Both must be filled out with pen or pencil, signed and submitted in an envelope, a columnist for The Washington Post wrote.
But there are some differences.
To vote absentee, a voter in 16 states has to apply and be approved if they are eligible to make their votes by mail-in ballot, giving reasons like age, being disabled or not being in the country on the stated Election Day, USA Today reported.
Five states hold universal mail-in elections, where all registered voters are mailed ballots, but can still opt to visit a polling place in person. Three other states have about two-thirds of votes being cast being done so via mail, according to USA Today.