Americans prepare to vote during the COVID-19 pandemic

Election

(WFRV) – Americans have known for months now that handling the coronavirus pandemic requires mask-wearing, avoiding large crowds, and social distancing. Now, those safety measures have altered how this year’s elections will be conducted.

Wisconsin Elections Commission Public Information Officer Reid Magney says the commission is notifying 2.6 million registered Wisconsin voters of how they can participate this fall. The options are in-person at a polling place, with absentee ballots at a municipal clerk’s office, or with mail-in absentee ballots.

Magney says polling stations will practice social distancing and be equipped with personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies. However, polling stations might not be the most popular option this year.

David Becker, the executive director and founder of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, says he anticipates voting by mail will be more popular in the United States than ever before.

“Voters like options, and many voters are choosing to vote by mail,” Becker said. “I think every single state is going to set a record for mail-in voting.”

According to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, in 2018’s August Primary, 108,162 absentee ballots were counted. As of Monday, August 3, more than 330,000 ballots have already been returned for the August 11 primary. That’s a mere fraction of the 836,469 absentee ballot applications that have been submitted statewide.

While mail-in ballots provide an easy outlet for many individuals, some people are concerned about the integrity of the election.

Congressman Mike Gallagher says that it’s important for the election process to be air-tight in its protections.

“We’ve had feedback in recent years about a shockingly high number of mail-in ballots that went uncounted or had questionable signatures at best,” Gallagher said. “It’s a matter of making sure we have multiple layers of protection to maintain the sanctity of the election.”

The Wisconsin Elections Commission says waiting for the last minute to cast a ballot is what clogs the system and ultimately causes errors in the election.

As for fraudulent voting, Becker says, “Voter fraud is largely a myth. The amount of voter fraud isn’t zero, but it’s very close to zero.”

Wisconsinites can apply for absentee ballots now on myvote.wi.gov.

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