How Mail-In Ballots Won the Election

After a long wait the election is over, Joe Biden is finally President-Elect. Both candidates broke the record for votes cast in their name, but it was mail-in votes which won the election.

Incumbent President Donald Trump openly criticised mail-in ballots throughout the campaign. 

Trump’s claims were ludicrous: “Mail-in ballots are very dangerous – there’s tremendous fraud involved.”

The President said: “This is going to be a fraud like you’ve never seen.”

There is zero substance to Trump’s claims. After all, the President used to vote by mail himself. And why did they make everything take so long?

“Traditionally, republicans voted by mail.”

It may come as a surprise, especially after this election that, traditionally, Republicans voted by mail. Wealthy, well-educated, Republican leaning voters would previously make up a large part of voter turnout. 

But after the 2016 election, Trumpism became the game for the Republican party. Trump lost the ‘middle of the road’ vote to the Democrats almost as soon as he had won it back in 2016, and low-income white voters made up what was left of Trump’s support.

It’s no surprise then, that mail-in ballots favoured Joe Biden during this election. But also, Democrats in general, were also more likely to vote by mail, given that they are more conscious of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and the American diaspora abroad, who may not usually vote in US elections, had a vested interest in ousting Trump.

Trump’s disregard of the coronavirus pandemic meant that he told his supporters to vote in-person, on Election Day. 

Biden and the Democrats took it more seriously. They recommended that people vote by mail as much as they can, to protect themselves and their families. Trump knew this, and so he attacked mail-in voting with unsubstantiated claims of the system’s vulnerability to fraud.


Between 2000-2012, 491 cases of voter fraud took place out of billions of ballots cast. 

A study by the Brennan Center for Justice found that Americans are more likely to be struck by lightning than commit voter fraud.

Rules on mail-in ballots vary from state to state. Some, like Texas, require an acceptable excuse to vote by mail. Others states, like Oregon and Washington State, conduct their elections almost entirely by mail.

For voters in states like Texas, coronavirus was a universal excuse.

Why did the counting take so long?

Usually, people don’t need to wait four days for the US Presidential Election to be called.

Unfortunately, key States like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, won’t allow counters to count early mail-in ballots until Election Day. The result was left unknown for days, whilst these States went through those absentee ballots.

Furthermore, voter turnout increases with mail-in voting an option, according to a Stanford University study. This may explain why Joe Biden received the most votes of any candidate in history, and President Trump the second most.

Of course, this record number of votes further contributed to the enormous delay we saw whilst waiting for the winner. 

President Trump used the wait and the fact that most absentee votes were for Joe Biden to make claims of fraud and corruption. Claims that we are yet to see evidence for.

It’s likely that the Trump campaigns court battles over the next few weeks will be shot down and thrown out by judges across the United States. We’re still likely to see Joe Biden sworn into office in January.

Yet it’s unlikely this is the last we’ll hear from one-term President Donald Trump and mail-in ballots. There’s still plenty to watch.

After a long wait the election is over, Joe Biden is finally President-Elect. Both candidates broke the record for votes cast in their name, but it was mail-in votes which won the election.