Dispelling Common Voting Disinformation Narratives
Politically motivated bad actors are working to suppress the vote and sow distrust in our vote-by-mail systems by claiming it is not secure, that if people are protesting they should vote in person, and mistaking mail-in ballots and absentee ballots for significantly different things. However, the following are three key things you need to know as you get ready to vote in this upcoming election general election:
First, no one should have to choose between their health and the right to vote. Despite the extremely rare instances of issues with voting by mail, disinformation about the security and integrity of voting by mail continues to circulate. However, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 3-in-4 Americans support giving all eligible voters the option to vote by mail. Many states have successfully voted entirely by mail for years, such as Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.
Second, the recent protests across the nation in the wake of the murder of George Floyd have given rise to a new narrative claiming that if people are able to protest, they shouldn’t need to abide by any other coronavirus safeguards, such as voting by mail. Your right to peacefully assemble is a key American constitutional right. The circumstances of George Floyd’s death were so serious that many individuals decided to participate in peaceful protests: some in person, some online, some in cars, and in other forms. Just like engaging in peaceful protests, voters should be allowed various options based on what they feel is safe for them – this includes mail-in ballots, dropboxes, or safe voting in-person (with expanded early voting to ensure social distancing and safety measures) if they choose.
Third, a “mail-in ballot” , “vote-by-mail ballot” and an “absentee ballot” are the same — in fact, in Florida, which the President often cites as a positive example, the law specifically calls them a “vote-by-mail ballot” and “absentee ballot” doesn’t appear in the statutes. You may hear a lot of invective in the coming weeks against mail-in ballots, despite the fact that the President himself has voted absentee. This is because a false distinction between mail ballots and absentee voting is being created. While the method through which the ballot arrives at your house may differ, all ballots will undergo the same verification and security process.
What you can do:
- Always check trusted sources of information like your Secretary of State’s office — visit https://www.nass.org/can-I-vote — to make sure you have the proper information for your state when it comes to voting.
- Report disinformation you see online at: https://www.commoncause.org/disinfo
- Use our voting tools to register to vote, check your registration, request an absentee ballot and more here: https://www.commoncause.org/vote