Should Libertarians Support Vote By Mail?

In short, yes. And it’s not even close.

It’s also not only because of Coronavirus, but let’s start there.

Coronavirus hit the United States quickly and harshly. The impact on our economy, institutions, and way of life has been significant and will likely reverberate for years. The virus also presents a real and present danger to our Republic. Voter participation is a bedrock of representative government, and as the Mercatus Center argues here, voters should not be forced to assume significant health risks in order to cast their ballots.

Due to these valid health concerns, as the virus spread in March voter turnout plummeted in early primary states. More recently, in Wisconsin, officials went ahead with their primary election anyway, and by all accounts it was a disaster.

So what should we do? The solution here is actually quite simple: Vote by Mail (also known as Vote at Home).

Through vote by mail systems, voters receive a ballot by mail, fill it out, and either mail it back or bring it to a secure drop-off location at their convenience. Vote at home systems currently vary by state, but the best systems, already in place in five states – Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Utah, and Hawaii – automatically mail a ballot to all registered voters weeks ahead of election day. Voters then take the time to research candidates, cast their votes, and return their ballot to a secure drop off location or in the mail. Those who want to vote in person are still allowed to do so at traditional polling locations.

Imagine for a moment sitting around the dinner table with your children researching and comparing candidates for office while discussing the importance of our representative form of government and how lucky we are to have such a thing. Homeschoolers, I see your “Tuttle Twins”, and I raise you Vote at Home.

Besides providing a low-risk way for voters, especially the elderly and immunocompromised, to participate this November, there are many other benefits to voting by mail.

Voting by mail is more secure than voting in-person on electronic machines because hackers cannot compromise paper ballots.

States with full vote at home systems have turnout rates between seven and ten percentage points higher than states without the policy, with virtually the same impact among Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike.

Finally, counties and states that have expanded vote at home policies have saved taxpayer dollars over time by decreasing reliance on poll workers and trimming the need for provisional ballots.

Let’s recap. Voting by mail is more secure. It’s more convenient. And it reduces cost and unnecessary bureaucracy. As a libertarian, what’s not to love?

Jeffrey Carson is the Senior Director of Operations & People at Unite America, a movement of Democrats, Republicans, and independents working to put voters first by fostering a more representative and functional government.

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