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Vote-by-mail gets off to good start

The debut of Pennsylvania’s new vote-by-mail law on Tuesday offered hope that the Nov. 3 general election will not be chaotic or have credible grounds for suspicions of voter fraud or other irregularities.

Of course, likely for at least the next several election cycles, many people will continue to be reluctant or opposed to voting by mail as they continue opting for the traditional in-person casting of ballots.

However, the number of those individuals is likely to wane over time, as long as this new voting option can proceed efficiently and with strict safeguards to guarantee the accuracy and honesty of the vote.

The Southern Alleghenies region provided ample reason for believing that honesty and accuracy can be guaranteed, going forward, with the safeguards used Tuesday.

The fact that more time — in some counties of the commonwealth, much more time — became necessary for the initial counting of votes should not be regarded negatively. What is most important is making voting available, convenient and efficient for the greatest number of eligible voters possible.

Mail-in ballots, along with the traditional absentee-ballot option, provide the widest-open window for that to be achieved.

Those harboring what many people regard as conspiracy theories about mail-in voting have a right to express their opinions. However, states that have been allowing mail-in voting for a long time show there is a place for Pennsylvania’s new voting option.

Based on Tuesday, it is an option destined to attract increasing favor in future elections, for a number of reasons.

One important one is it affords voters more time to ponder their selections, rather than feeling pressured to make decisions hastily — perhaps haphazardly — because of a line of voters behind them waiting to vote. Unfortunately, there are significant numbers of voters who don’t know what offices are up for grabs and who is running for those positions until they enter their voting booth.

Mail-in voting is an opportunity for more intelligent, well-prepared voting.

Tuesday’s election was a tutorial for what preparation will be needed for the Nov. 3 election, which, judging from the divisiveness so rampant now in the country, could produce the highest-percentage voter turnout in generations, if not in America’s history.

Voting by mail will be an important ingredient toward realizing such a turnout, and it should be encouraged by both major political parties — although some opposition to that method will no doubt continue to be voiced, including by President Donald Trump.

Wednesday’s Mirror explained how the county board of elections worked to ensure there were no irregularities in Tuesday’s balloting. Likewise, people staffing the polls checked their books to see if voters had asked for and returned a mailed ballot.

With the start of mail-in balloting, coupled with 22 counties road-testing new paper-based voting machines, the stage was set for formidable problems.

There were some problems, including in Philadelphia, but the Pennsylvania Department of State was upbeat on Wednesday, describing Tuesday’s election as generally having gone smoothly.

Hopefully, on Nov. 4, the day after the general election, the state, its counties and, most importantly, its voters will be able to render a similar judgment — despite all-time-record voter participation having been achieved.

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