Record editorial: Doubts about mail-in voting? Utah shows the system works.
Due to the dangers and impracticality of voting in person during the worst pandemic in a century, millions of Americans this fall will be casting ballots by mail for the first time.
In Summit County and the rest of Utah, we’ll be voting by mail, too. For us, though, it’s old hat — our elections have been largely conducted that way since 2016, and the system has been incredibly successful. Officials credit it with increasing voter turnout, unsurprising given the convenience it offers. And that’s to say nothing of the benefit of being able to make better-informed decisions by digging into candidates and issues with the aid of an internet browser and other informational materials at hand while filling out a ballot.
Those benefits are why it’s been jarring for many Utahns to see the national furor erupting over the security of mail-in voting, with President Trump leading a charge to undermine faith in the system and, ultimately, to preemptively question the legitimacy of November’s election.
Utah officials, to their credit, have pushed back on the debunked notion that mail-in voting is somehow less safe than casting a ballot in person.
Following a tweet from the president falsely stating that widespread use of mail-in ballots would make the presidential election fraudulent, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, Utah’s top election official, countered the claim in a tweet of his own. “Utah is a model of showing vote-by-mail can be successful and secure,” he said, adding that Utah is willing to help other states implement their own mail-in voting systems.
Likewise, Gov. Gary Herbert and at least two Republican members of the state’s congressional delegation also split with the president on the issue, disagreeing with his suggestion that the election should be delayed.
Given the frightening implications for American democracy of a sitting president sowing distrust in our election system, it’s imperative for the state’s leadership to speak up and reassure citizens that their votes will be counted and that mail-in voting will not affect the election’s legitimacy. As one of a handful of states to pioneer vote-by-mail — and a heavily Republican state, notably — Utah has a powerful voice on this issue.
Will there be widespread concern this fall about Utah’s election results? That’s doubtful, given our familiarity with vote-by-mail.
The same, unfortunately, cannot be said in other places where casting a ballot through the mail is a relatively new concept. There will likely even be some Utahns skeptical of the national returns in the presidential race, given how Trump has stoked such fears.
Hopefully, the example of Utah — and continued reassurances from its leaders as the election nears — can help quell those concerns. There are plenty of things Utahns can gripe about when it comes to their representation at the state and congressional levels. But access to the ballot is not one of them.
In Utah, we do voting right. This fall, the rest of the nation should look to our example.
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