Normally this would be in the politics category - but I want everyone to see it. Let’s refrain from tacking our political crap onto this as it is meant to be informational and hopefully clear up some common misconceptions.
First off, if you are in Utah, vote by mail is default. It is very safe and secure. You can track your ballot the entire way by going here:
For example - I mailed my ballot on Saturday - I checked yesterday and it noted a ballot had been mailed to me but didn’t say mine had been received, yet. It noted it could take a few days for that to happen even after it had been delivered by the postal service. Today though it shows that the clerk’s office has received my ballot and that it won’t be counted until Election Day (more on that below). After that I can check and it will tell me if it has been counted.
So, despite some claims, vote by mail, particularly in Utah which really should be the gold standard for both voting security and voting access, is extremely safe and secure.
A few things to note - because it is already being said by various politicians and talking heads in prep for disputes over elections:
Voting has NEVER been completed on election night. Depending on the size of the voting turnout and the size of a municipality, voting can take a number of days. Voting is usually certified weeks after Election Day and this was before the ability to vote by mail. Absentee ballots, provisional ballots, disputed ballots all take time to process.
Pretty much the only way your vote won’t get counted if there is a problem is if you don’t respond. If you live in Salt Lake County (and I’m sure this is true in all of Utah) the clerk’s office takes every effort to validate or correct your ballot if there are problems - they don’t just toss them out. So if you forget to sign your ballot, or something isn’t clear they WILL contact you and sort it out.
Media projections are not final vote tallies. What throws people off is that often enough ballots will be counted, or a margin is large enough that they’ll give projections as to who the winner will be, and the media reports it as such. Basically it is statistics, but once a certain percentage is in, if the margin is big enough they may call who has won before every vote is counted. However, it isn’t official until it is certified.
So if someone is claiming that voting is typically completed election night don’t believe them.
Most states have laws prohibiting the counting of early submitted ballots before Election Day. In my opinion this is a very good thing - you don’t want early tallies leaking that may influence the outcome one way or another (ie. Candidate so-and-so is way out ahead, don’t bother voting…). Utah is a state that doesn’t allow early counting - and because of that it means that vote counting will take time.
Voting counts and projected results can be sporadic. In the last election one party was more likely to vote in person and another was more likely to vote by mail. Those get counted at different times and may show a swing. This is less relevant in Utah - but counties may report in Utah before others - so it may show one candidate with a big lead if the smaller counties in Utah have reported - but Salt Lake County may take longer and swing things in a different direction. So vote swings are a total normal part of the process.
There are a TON of things to make elections secure - including the ability for citizens and various parties to have monitors to watch the election officials. There are a lot of rules around how this works - but the odds of an election official tampering with results are extremely low.
I could go on and on about this topic as I’ve done a ton of reading and research on it. I’ll just say this, turn off the news and stop listening to claims of either VOTER SUPPRESSION or VOTER FRAUD. It is extremely hard and very inefficient to do either and it is not nearly as widespread or prevalent as either side claims. This is done to drive a wedge in voters and it works. There are ways to swing votes that are much easier to do than at the ballot box (like gerrymandering for example). But nearly ALL claims of either fraud or suppression are either way overstated or outright false. This doesn’t mean it never happens, it is just rare and on a scale unlikely to remotely change the outcome of an election. Put another way - nobody is stuffing ballots in drop boxes at a scale that matters, and putting a drop box in a secure location doesn’t stop people from voting either at a scale that matters.
Get out and vote - have confidence in the process and its security. Lots of elections are going to come down to small margins and so your vote now counts more than ever. Not only that, but the outcome of this election will have a direct impact on the 2024 general election - this one is more than just a midterm election. Make a difference.