To say we are confused in November 2020 is an understatement. But we have it within our power to ensure all votes are counted, even if recounts are needed.

As of this writing, President Donald Trump appears to have lost his bid for re-election.

In the background of that, fact checkers in the media have downplayed the concerns Trump has raised about election security. Add the push in some states toward all mail-in balloting this election cycle, based on fears over COVID-19, and here we are. As Americans, we are losing confidence in the integrity of our elections.

The specific agent of angst this season was a rush to mail-in balloting, a system that is not foolproof. During this year’s presidential primary elections, more than 550,000 mail-in ballots were rejected across the country due to errors — a problem that can disenfranchise legitimate voters. It’s also problematic to send unsolicited mail-in ballots or ballot applications to all voters, as we know the voter rolls contain inaccurate and outdated information.

Voter fraud is real, even if the reported incidents happen on a small scale. A mayoral candidate in Carrollton was arrested this year on 84 counts of mail ballot application fraud. A commissioner and supporters in Gregg County were indicted for a 2018 scheme to get absentee ballots for 38 voters by falsely saying those voters were disabled, exploiting a well documented weakness in our mail-in ballot system.

A judge in Paterson, N.J. ordered a new city council election this year after finding the previous race “rife with mail in vote procedural violations.” And in 2016, officials overturned the results of a congressional race in North Carolina after discovering a political operative was harvesting ballots. Several advisory committees have raised concerns about flawed or inaccurate voter rolls, which are often the source of mail in ballot fraud exploitation.

This year partisan state officials fought to circumvent state laws in order to expand the use of mail-in ballots, their time of receipt, their “drop” place of receipt and the counting process. Because of a rush to do so, the crucial supervision of poll watchers and checkers was initially omitted during early voting.

If a winner is declared before we reach the end of all the judicial processes, our American constitutional systems have lost. The 2020 election will be forever questioned, and its legitimacy and its integrity will be forever in doubt.

States should work to prevent future voting debacles.

Expanding early voting in Texas from two to three weeks was smart. By helping elections officials adhere to CDC guidelines, we showed that a trip to the polls was no more dangerous than a trip to the grocery store. The Secure and Free Election Agenda by the Texas Public Policy Foundation provides other suggestions.

States came together to cobble together a uniform commercial code. One possible solution might be doing the same using lessons learned in the failings of the 2020 election. That would go a long way toward bringing the nation together — as we should be.