Early voting has officially begun in Georgia to determine who will represent the state in the U.S. Senate. However, concerns still linger from the 2020 general election over the security of Georgia's election system. These concerns are part of a broader pattern of uneasiness about elections across the country. According to a recent Morning Consult survey, 40.6% of the respondents expressed distrust in the U.S. election system. A recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist survey reported that only 24% of Republicans thought the results of the 2020 election were accurate.
🚨 Early voting in Georgia starts today 🚨 #HoldTheLine #GApol pic.twitter.com/3Xu6UsniCU— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) December 14, 2020
FEC Chair Trey Trainor has suggestions for simple steps that states can take during the upcoming election cycle to restore the public's faith in the election system. He believes that these solutions can even be implemented immediately during Georgia's runoffs to ease the concerns of those who are worried about the integrity of the results there.
My op-ed regarding some ways to restore trust in elections in today’s @AJC #ElectionLaw https://t.co/zGxT5joAle— Trey Trainor (@txelectionlaw) December 13, 2020
First, Chair Trainor argues that the Oregon model for administering mail-in voting should be adopted. While in-person voting remains the best way to ensure that your vote is counted, the reality is that many states have expanded mail-in voting due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mail voting is likely to be used more in future elections as a result.
Oregon changed its elections to all mail-in back in 2000, so they have had 20 years of experience and relatively few problems. One of the keys to their system is they, like Georgia, require all ballots (with the exception of those coming in from overseas) to be received on Election Day. Those states that extended the ballot reception period are largely the places experiencing the most problems due to accusations of ballot box stuffing after the electoral trends became publicly known. Pennsylvania, for example, didn’t cease accepting ballots until November 6, three full days after the election.
Furthermore, Chair Trainor suggests that the reporting model used in Kentucky and Wisconsin this election cycle would be beneficial for restoring confidence.
In both cases, officials in all counties held off on releasing their results until every counting entity had finished tabulating results.
In these two states, all county returns were released simultaneously in bulk, thus eliminating the potential for accusations of fraud. This simple step, one which is well within the purview of current law, would go a long way to ending speculation that numbers are being changed to fit a desired outcome. As such, this uniform reporting procedure should most certainly be adopted for the upcoming Georgia Senate runoff elections.
Third, Chair Trainor notes the importance of matching the signature on a mail-in ballot's envelope with the corresponding voter's registration card. Election results in places like Pennsylvania and Nevada were questioned this year because of directives to count votes regardless of whether signatures were verified.
Finally, he suggests that any time the counting of ballots stops, the ballots should remain in a locked room with extra security precautions to ensure that ballots are not tampered with.
Chair Trainor's commonsense recommendations would go a long way to restore Americans' faith in our election system and would be relatively easy to be implemented by state and local elections officials in a timely manner.