Election day is meant to be the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. This is a day when the American people get to go vote and finally put a long campaign, whether it be presidential or otherwise, behind them. Yet, in the year 2020, election results are still being disputed long after election day. News channels claim that certain states are still ‘too close to call,’ and certain states barely have any vote counted. Some states have even accepted ballots after election day. Georgia recently officially flipped blue after a recount despite leaning red on election day. This leaves the American people with uncertainty for days, weeks, or even months after an election. Enough is enough. It is time for the federal government to set uniform standards for all states concerning how they distribute, receive and count ballots.
When the founding fathers gave each individual state authority over its elections, there was no reason to give that decision a second thought. Due to the constraints of the time period, there would be no way to know who had won a presidential election until weeks after, when the Electoral College met and officially decided a victor. However in 2020, thanks to computers and televisions, it is possible, in fact easy, for citizens across the country to know vote counts from each individual state as they come in. News channels have begun ‘calling’ states based on results on election night, and the American people have become accustomed to knowing the winner of an election that night.
But, as we saw in early November and in years past, this system does not work when the election margins are razor thin. Certain states do not count all their votes on election day and some accept ballots after election day. This leads to not knowing the winner of an election on election night. Thus, the federal government should set a standard for how all states run elections.
Let’s use Florida as an example of how all states should run elections. Florida is the third-largest state in the Union, however it counted nearly 100% of its vote on or before election day. This was made possible by a number of factors. Among them was that Florida counted absentee ballots before election day, and the state did not accept any ballots received after polls closed on election day. Because of these factors, news networks were able to call this swing state for President Trump just after 11 p.m. Eastern Time, though the winner was clear even before then.
Another benefit of uniform voting standards is that voters could be more certain that election results are not fraudulent. Currently, 16 states do not require any identification to vote in any election. Those 16 states plus the District of Columbia add up to a total of 220 electoral votes, clearly enough to sway a presidential election and have effects on the entire nation if fraud occurs in any of those states. Nationwide voter identification standards could prevent this from occurring.
Having uniform standards for voting across the country also could help the United States’ abysmal voter turnout. Less than 60% of eligible voters cast a ballot in 2016’s presidential election. This may be in part due to confusing rules and registration requirements that each state has. For example, Texas residents must register to vote at least 30 days before the election, but California citizens can register up to and on election day. These varying rules are too confusing for an average voter to keep up with, thus they discourage and prevent more people from voting.
Lastly, the federal government has more resources to ensure that every single ballot is legally cast and counted correctly than states and counties do. The federal government could undoubtedly do a better job at tallying votes than a state like Alaska, which waited more than a week to count any absentee ballots, which amounted to nearly half of all votes cast in the state. The federal government should make sure that ballots are counted safely and quickly, giving the American people more ease about their election process.
The American people deserve to know the winner of any election on election night, and they deserve to know that that winner won the election fairly and without outside interference. In 2020, this is certainly possible, and the government is letting the American people down if it does not meet these standards. Thus, the federal government should set uniform standards for voting across the United States.
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