Controversy erupts over mail-in ballots as election day approaches

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Owen McAdams, Staff Writer

Amidst a critical election year, health concerns over voting in-person due to the COVID-19 pandemic has seen voting by mail become the most logical choice for more and more Americans than ever before. However, this option has not resonated well with all. 

President Trump shared his concerns over mail-in voting for the upcoming election after the Justice Department unveiled an investigation into nine ballots which were found discarded in northern Pennsylvania.  

“We have to be very careful with the ballots, the ballots, that’s a whole big scam,” Trump said at the White House. 

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Middle District of Pennsylvania during an initial press conference revealed that seven of the nine discarded ballots were for Trump and the other two were unknown. 

David J. Freed, U.S. attorney confirmed, saying “At this point we can confirm that a small number of military ballots were discarded. Of the nine ballots that were discarded and then recovered, seven were cast for presidential candidate Donald Trump. Two of the discarded ballots had been resealed inside their appropriate envelopes by Luzerne elections staff prior to recovery by the FBI and the contents of those two ballots are unknown.” 

This builds on Trump’s disdain of the use of ballots. On May 24, Trump tweeted; “The United States cannot have all Mail in Ballots. It will be the greatest Rigged Election in history. People grab them from mailboxes, print thousands of forgeries and “force” people to sign. Also, forge names. Some absentee OK, when necessary. Trying to use COVID for this Scam!” 

Trump feels that the legitimacy of the election is in question due to possible rigging, which is made easier by voting by mail.  

“We want to make sure the election is honest, and I am not sure that it can be. I don’t know that it can be with this whole situation of unsolicited ballots. They are unsolicited, millions being sent to everybody,” Trump said. 

Trump’s grievances are not shared by all, however. Democrats have been refuting President Trump’s claims that the election is not safe with mail-in ballots. 

During an Instagram Live event for her voter-registration group, former First Lady Michelle Obama commented on the issue, saying people shouldn’t be “discouraged by those conspiracy theories that are being peddled out there about the validity of our election process because it’s just not true. 

FBI Director Christopher Wray reassured voters in response to the discarded ballots, saying the agency “has not seen, historically, any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it’s by mail or otherwise.  

This raises the question of whether your vote safe through the mail. Despite little to no evidence of voter fraud, Trump and Republicans alike push into the foreground the validity of votes through mail. While mail-in ballots are certainly riskier than voting in-person, there is nothing to say that it is most definitely rigged and that your vote will not count. Voting in-person is still the superior option to ensure that nothing happens, but due to COVID and the risks involved with going out to vote, voting by mail is a decent alternative that many people will choose.