Make It Count: Vote in Person If You Can

September 25, 2020

With election day less than 40 days away, it is easy to forget that Americans are voting right now. Many states have begun early in-person voting, and Americans are filling out and mailing in their mail-in ballots -- including military personnel. Protecting the voting rights of those who protect our right to vote is essential, and that's why when nine mail-in ballots (seven of which were from military personnel) were discovered in the trash in Pennsylvania, the Department of Justice announced they will launch an investigation.

By now, the contours of our electoral college system are well-established -- several key battleground states will likely determine who our next president is. Among the most coveted of these battleground states are former "blue wall" states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

In 2016, President Trump won a decisive victory in the electoral college against Hillary Clinton: 304 to 227 electoral votes. Trump did so by winning states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, states that had been reliably Democratic for decades. However, that decisive electoral college victory looks much slimmer when you consider President Trump won all three states by less than 80,000 votes combined.

Every vote matters. In these final weeks before the election, both campaigns are firing up their get-out-the-vote engines. Armies of volunteers will fill campaign offices (or, if you're the Biden campaign, do Zoom calls), make calls, and knock on doors to get voters to the polls. Part of that effort will include contacting voters who have requested mail-in ballots and encouraging them to fill them out and drop them off at a drop box or mail them in. Whether it's due to a disability, fears of COVID, military service, or simple preference, millions of Americans will vote by mail in this election.

With so much at stake in this election for our country, it is vital we ensure the integrity of our elections. President Trump has raised concerns regarding this very possibility for months now, and for good reason. Similar stories of discarded ballots being discovered in Wisconsin, as well as rampant problems with mail-in ballots in New Jersey, and yesterday's announcement from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton of charging several Texas county commissioners with voter fraud charges connected to mail-in voting, all point to not just the possibility of fraud with mail-in voting -- but the existence of fraud with mail-in voting. Add in the intrigue of President Trump's nomination of a third Supreme Court nominee, and we have a very volatile 39 days ahead of us.

FRC President Tony Perkins spoke Thursday night with former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett about this very situation at the 15th annual Values Voter Summit. Regarding the potential for a messy election night, Bennett said: "I'll tell you the one thing that worries me the most is this absentee ballot thing. It's not going to be over on election night." Also troubling is the fact that a number of recent court rulings have paved the way for votes to be counted after election day -- provided they are postmarked by election day. This only increases the likelihood of SCOTUS having to break the log jam as they did back in 2000 in Bush v. Gore. As Bennett observed: "I think Michigan just said 12 days we can accept these ballots, 12 days afterwards... for filling one out and sending one in, this is really worrisome. This makes the importance of the court all the greater, if it needs to go to the court."

Thirty-nine days is an eternity in politics. In the days ahead, we can expect President Trump to announce his pick to replace Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Senate confirmation hearing on the president's nominee, (possibly) a vote on the nominee as well, three face-to-face presidential debates, the airwaves to be bombarded with campaign ads, and an endless stream of fever-pitched invective designed to dissuade voters. A close election will almost certainly lead to litigation, which will almost certainly make its way to the Supreme Court. While filling an open Supreme Court seat will impact the American legal system for a generation, and might decide who is our next president, there is one thing that absolutely must happen first: we must vote.

In closing his time with Tony, Bennett said: "The message is: be sure to vote. Get your friends to vote. Offer to help them get to the polls, or to fill out that absentee ballot." We agree. Take the challenge to pray, vote, and stand at