It is the afternoon of Wednesday September 9, 2020 and I just returned from casting my 2020 general election ballot. There is an interesting story behind that and a few lessons for all. Let’s explore.
I live in North Carolina which is one of the easiest states to vote in. North Carolina has no excuse required mail in voting. It also allows voters to personally return their ballot as soon as they fill them out.
Friday September 4th was the first day the North Carolina Boards of Elections could mail out ballots. I had put my request in several weeks prior to that. On Saturday the 5th my ballot was in my mailbox. I filled it out on Monday, which was Labor Day. I purposely decided not to hand it in on Tuesday because the first day back from a holiday is always challenging at work.
Earlier this afternoon I drove to my county Board of Elections. As I approached the building it was obvious that they had taken all reasonable precautions in consideration of the pandemic. Seconds after entering the building, the Director (unbeknown to me at the time) escorted me to a room dedicated to receiving ballots. There I was greeted by a young lady behind Plexiglas who guided and assisted me through the process. As part of it I had to fill out a brief form. A pen was supplied and I was told I had the option of keeping it or discarding it. Nothing is perfect but I can’t see how the Wake County Board of Elections could have handled this any better therefore I both thank and compliment them for their efforts!
If you are not a regular reader you may question why I handled things the way I did. In normal times there are easier ways to vote in North Carolina. Alas, these are far from normal times. I am what political scientists call a super voter. If there was a second runoff for dog catcher I’d probably vote in it. I became eligible to vote in 1972 and I can count the opportunities that I have missed on one hand and have several fingers left over.
I am concerned about voter suppression and the coronavirus’ impact on the 2020 election. I have long expected a second wave that will near its peak on Election Day. Too many people predictably acted irresponsibly over the Labor Day weekend and I expect a surge in cases and deaths around the end of September which will give additional “fuel” to the second wave as the weather turns colder. In other words the opportunity to safely vote isn’t going to get any better.
For about the past 20 years I’ve lived in Florida or North Carolina, both of which are early voting states. Most often I vote during the in-person early voting period. I like the idea of going to the polls with my well researched sample ballot in hand. Early voting allows me to do that while giving me flexibility. Life happens and it can happen on Election Day. This year I felt that with the coronavirus that was not the optimal option for me.
I realize that I have some advantages other people do not. I have a car and a driver’s license so getting to the Board of Elections is not a challenge. Being retired, with minimal planning my time is very flexible. I had concerns about the USPS getting my completed ballot to its destination so I went the extra mile of personally handing it in. It was probably overkill on my part but I know I did everything I can.
When I worked for the 2012 Obama campaign I thought it bordered on silly that we made such a fuss about badgering people to make a plan to vote. With hindsight I was the one who was exaggerating perhaps because I didn’t realize the advantages I had in life over many other voters. Circumstances are certainly different in 2020 and I have grown some; now I think it is imperative that everyone has both a Plan A and a backup Plan B.
My Plan B was to vote during in-person early voting. It would have been riskier from a health perspective but I am willing to risk my life to save those of my six grandchildren! Fortunately my Plan A worked like a charm. Every state has different voting laws; research yours. Whatever you decide to do, don’t wait until the end! If you do many of your options will either have expired or will no longer be practical.
The bottom line is VOTE!!!!!! If you don’t vote you are not part of the solution but are in fact part of the problem.
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