With the U.S. presidential election less than three months away and the coronavirus still raging across the country, concerns over holding a general election in the middle of a pandemic are mounting. As it looks unlikely that the situation can be resolved by November, many people think that universal mail-in voting would be preferable to 100+ million people casting their ballots in person.
With President Trump the most prominent and vocal opponent of mail-in voting, the debate over its pros and cons quickly turned into a deeply partisan issue. While Trump calls mail-in voting a ”catastrophic disaster” and “an easy way for foreign countries to enter the race”, Democrats widely support the practice, with Sen. Amy Klobuchar saying that “voters should not need to choose between their health and casting their ballots,” and suggesting legislation to “guarantee every voter can cast a mail-in ballot and everyone has access to at least 20 days of early voting so we can reduce lines on Election Day for those that need to vote in person.”
As the following chart, based on data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures, shows, the current rules on mail-in voting vary heavily across states. While five states (Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington) hold all-mail elections, another 30 allow no-excuse absentee voting, meaning that voters don’t need to give a reason for casting their ballot by mail. The remaining states also allow mail-in voting, but require an excuse to do so, which often includes age, illness or other inhibiting factors.