A User’s Guide to Mail-In Voting

Below is all the information you need for this years upcoming election!


Millions of voters may be disenfranchised this election.

How do you vote? For many Coloradans, they get a ballot in the mail, fill it out, and use the prepaid return envelope to place it in the ballot drop box at your local post office. That sounds simple doesn’t it? Well, voting isn’t that simple for many other Americans in other states. In fact, voters who don’t live in Colorado, Oregon, Hawaii, Utah, and Washington have to physically cast their vote in person at polling places. Only the five states listed above have what are called “all-mail elections,” a system of voting that is indeed a privilege and luxury. The states that do not utilize all-mail elections allow people only to do mail-in voting by requesting it with an “excuse” in consideration. This process where voters must request absentee ballots ahead of time is called absentee mail balloting. Why are so many states unable to have mail-in ballots? This is a very complicated answer but the information below will give you the facts and answers available. 

What is the situation right now with the upcoming election?

As you know, the upcoming election is under special circumstances this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, and special circumstances come with setbacks. Donald Trump and Joe Biden, the primary candidates for the election, are under intense battles with each other as in every election to get the most voter support. Although, some candidates not only are looking for voter support, they are also looking at ways to deny as many votes as possible for the other candidate. One way Trump has been denying support for Biden and the democratic party is by shooting down a central voting platform: the United States Postal Service (USPS). Getting rid of votes through the USPS reduces the number of people whose voices are heard and further misrepresents the voting desires of the country. Ironically, Trump votes using an absentee voting ballot, the very thing he wishes and is attempting to deny others. Due to this controversy, American voters are suffering from knowing whether or not their mail-in vote will count this fall election.

What is mail-in voting?

Mail in voting allows citizens to be able to cast a ballot that is sent to you via mail and return it via a prepaid return envelope to count as your official vote. Voters who use this method can cast votes from home and then all they have to do is put it in the mail or a secure ballot box for it to be counted on time. Although this process seems easily executed, many voters who use mail-in ballots don’t get their vote counted. 

Why might your vote not be counted this year if you use a mail-in ballot?

If you have used the USPS to vote in the past, you may have appreciated the convenience it provides to voters who have busy schedules and can’t take time out of their day to go to busy polling places. Another benefit of mail-in voting has also arisen with the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic; voters can vote from the safety of their homes and reduce all possible contact with others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even recommends that voters use mail-in voting to their advantage to avoid being exposed to COVID. Despite all the positives of mail-in voting, the USPS has been in intense debt for many years now, but have gone into even more extreme debt with COVID-19. They do have the chance to be properly funded by the government but personal wants of the president have been blocking this. Increased funding for the postal service would increase the ability to allow voters to vote by mail. Trump rejected the 25 billion dollar bill that would help support the postal service and allow it to properly account for mail in ballots. A letter has been sent to state officials that more than 160 million voters could be disenfranchised due to delays in delivery this voting season. This means that voters who carry out the voting process correctly can still have their vote not counted. The Washington Post states that, “More than 534,000 mail ballots were rejected during primaries across 23 states this year, disenfranchising voters and offering a preview of what could happen in November, when voter turnout is likely to rise dramatically.” Due to the lack of proper funding for the USPS, the agency has informed voters that they will struggle to get mail-in votes counted in time this November. This issues a huge problem for voters who rely on this type of voting to make their voices heard. 

What are the concerns with mail-in voting?

Many factors of concern for mail-in voting are reasons for why many states are not allowing it. A main concern is that voting fraud will increase with mail-in ballots because there is no proof that the proper voter is filling out the ballot. Facts with this concern are that only 14 out of 15.5 million ballots had attempted voter fraud in Oregon since 1998. Even though Trump claims there is fraud involved with voting, there is no clear and substantial evidence to support this. Darrell M. West, a Vice President and Director of Brookings (a nonprofit public policy organization that bases articles off of thorough research), claims, “According to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, there is no evidence that mail balloting increases electoral fraud as there are several anti-fraud protections built into the process designed to make it difficult to impersonate voters or steal ballots.” Even though there may be some fraud concerning mail-in ballots, the amount of fraud would be far outweighed by the loss of votes there would be if mail-in ballots were denied. 

What are the benefits of mail-in voting?

Despite the concerns above, there are an abundance of benefits of mail-in voting. Mail-in voting allows more votes to get casted as it allows people who typically struggle with getting to and from polling places to be able to vote. This increase in votes includes more votes for senior citizens, young people, minorities, and others who benefit from using mail voting. Plus, mail-in voting ensures that voters can participate in the election process safely without exposing themselves to coronavirus. There are so many benefits to mail-in ballots because of their overall convenience for voters. 

How can you ensure your vote gets counted?

Request a mail-in ballot EXTRA early if you live in a state where all-mail voting isn’t an option. Refer to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) website and follow their quest to ensure all citizens have equal access to ballots and voting rights. This organization has a Let People Vote page that provides links to state-specific information on how, where, and when to vote. For Colorado’s information, use this link. Other sources below (in the citations) present information for voters. Tips for young voters who are trying to register and understand the voting requirements are here. Another very helpful source is Ballotpedia. Nowadays, a click of a link can give you so much helpful information, just be sure to use credible cites and search up any other specific concerns you have regarding voting. 


Whether you are a high school senior or a senior citizen, VOTE! If you can legally vote, VOTE! Many people who don’t vote do so because they believe their single vote “doesn’t matter” but if everyone believes that their one vote doesn’t matter, well then it starts to matter. Every vote matters, and every vote should be heard! Look at all of the possible ways you can vote and study the candidates. Get informed through research; it will benefit you to know what/who you are voting for. Use your right to vote and don’t let anyone take this right away from you! 


Disclaimer: The views and opinions presented in this article are those of the author and do not reflect that of Horizon High School or that of the Adams 12 School District