The pandemic-inspired moves toward the first mostly mail-in election in November may solve the public health issue, but the change will likely trigger problems that will reverberate long after Election Day. With tens of millions of Americans expected to mail in their ballots for the Nov. 3 general election amid a tangle of state laws, the country may not know whether President Donald Trump or Joe Biden won for days, even weeks. And during those weeks, there will likely be charges of cheating, lawsuits and demands for recounts in a country that prides itself on open, fair and efficient elections.
With no-excuse voting by mail already legal in 34 states, elections experts say the number of mail-in ballots could dramatically increase from the nearly 25% of votes that were cast by mail in 2016, given the public’s ongoing fear of gathering in large groups before the coronavirus is vanquished. That would be the biggest shift in voting since the 25th Amendment gave 18-year-olds the vote in 1971.