Good citizens actively participate in the voting process. The reality is that it is YOUR responsibility to vote and take action to make sure your vote counts. There will be threats, accusations of fraud, gerrymandering, interference, obstruction, distractions, public safety issues, technical problems, staffing shortages, location issues, and personal inconveniences. Here is how you need to prepare:
1. Keep your eyes and ears turned to a reliable local news source so that you will know where your voting location is, the hours during which you can place your vote (or get in line to vote), and whether or not the voting site changes before election day.
2. Pay attention to the weather, the surrounding traffic (road construction or closures), public transportation, parking availability at voting sites–anything that might hinder you from getting to the polls in time to vote.
3. If you vote by mail, be aware that the risk of fraud is lower than the latest news cycle indicates. Vote by mail has long been in place and effectively used by most states. In the 2016 national election, 1 out of every four votes cast was cast by mail (information sourced from the Associated Press 7/30/2020). Voting by mail is not risky, but it is not without issues. You must understand your role in the process: read the directions that come with the ballot. Please complete it and place it in the envelope and seal and sign it as instructed. Then get it in the mail on time. The United States Postal Service recommends you allow at least a full seven days for your mail-in ballot to be processed and delivered to the appropriate location. If the undermining of USPS and threat to their support continues—pay attention and get your vote in the mail even sooner.
4. Or hand-deliver your mail-in ballot to the elections office yourself. I had not planned to do so until I learned that another threat to my vote exists: water. My mail-in ballot arrived wet after a soaking rain. As a result, the glue on the enclosed envelope sealed it shut. When your ballot arrives in the mail, inspect it! Please don’t wait until the deadline to get it in the mail.
If you receive a damaged voting packet, call the Supervisor of Elections office and ask what their policy and process is for replacing the ballot or the mailing envelope. Here in Polk County, I was required to present my ballot, the damaged envelope, my voter’s ID card, and my photo ID. While I was there, I took advantage of the secure ballot drop-off box and dropped my ballot in the slot. Yes, I made sure I signed and sealed the outer envelope first.
I hope we have a record voter turnout on November 3rd. We may not be united in the results we desire from this election cycle. Still, we can work together to ensure everyone exercises their right—and their responsibility—to vote.
Thank you for your time and attention.
Vote! Vote! Vote!