“No right is more precious in a free country than that of having a voice in the election of those who make the laws under which, as good citizens, we must live. Other rights, even the most basic, are illusory if the right to vote is undermined.” Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black; majority opinion in Wesberry v. Sanders, (1964)
IF YOU HAVE NOT REGISTERED TO VOTE: It’s not too late. Do it now! See the website below.
HOW TO VOTE: Go to https://www.washingtonpost.com/elections/2020/how-to-vote/ or search for “Washington Post how to vote” to get a complete, state-specific guide to voting, including registration, early voting, voting by mail, and Election Day voting.
THE BEST WAY TO VOTE: EARLY VOTING
- Because of the uncertainty, doubt, and threats to invalidate mailed-in ballots, and the issues with the postal service, the best way to make sure your vote is counted is to vote in person rather than by mail.
- Considering the pandemic, the safest way to vote in person is EARLY VOTING, because it is less crowded.
- Early voting starts 1 or 2 weeks before Election Day in most states.
- Early voting sites are in public buildings like libraries (check your county voting website.)
- You can vote in any early voting location in your county, regardless of your precinct.
- Early voting sites use the same kind of voting machines that are used on Election Day.
- Vote mid-morning or mid-afternoon when the voting sites will be least busy.
- Bring a photo ID, or two if you have two.
- If you want to vote in person and you received a mail-in ballot, bring that too: you must surrender your mail-in ballot to vote in person.
IF YOU VOTE BY MAIL:
- Mail your ballot within a day or two after you receive it. Because of problems with mail service, mail it as early as you can, to make sure it is received in time to be counted before or on Election Day.
- Make sure to sign your name and date it.
- If your state requires a witness to your signature, have a witness sign on the witness line.
- Use 70 cents or more postage. (No, there is no $.70 stamp. Two first-class stamps will work.)
If you’ve been following the news, you know a struggle is going on over voting. Briefly, it is this: in this pandemic time, the Democrats are trying to make it easier for people to vote, while the Republicans, and especially the President, are working to make it more difficult to vote. The Republican party has sued in many states to try to restrict voting. Many of these cases have not yet been decided. The lines are clearly drawn:
- The Democrats favor mail-in voting for anyone who wants to mail-in vote; the Republicans are trying to restrict it.
- The Democrats want more drop-off boxes for mailed ballots, the Republicans want fewer. For example, in Texas, only 1 drop off box will be allowed per county. Texas has some huge counties.
- The Democrats are trying to expand early voting; the Republicans are trying to restrict it.
- The President has been promoting cynicism and doubt about voting since before the 2016 election. His messages are, “Why vote? It’s all rigged,” and, “Why vote? I plan to be president-for-life regardless of the election results.”
- The President is promoting voter intimidation by asking his supporters to act as unofficial “poll watchers” standing around polling places, presenting a barrier to voting for those who might not vote for him.
How did we get to this place, where our democracy seems to be teetering on the edge of dictatorship? The answer is easy: not enough young people and people of color voted in 2016. People who knew “Trump for President” was a bad idea didn’t vote because they were turned off by Hilary Clinton’s style or personality, or just because they didn’t feel enthusiastic about her. And we got a disaster for president.
Maybe you supported Sanders, or Buttigieg, or Warren. That’s no reason not to vote. All of those candidates have endorsed Biden.
I am frightened by how many young people say they don’t plan to vote. Maybe it’s because people don’t appreciate what they are given for free or receive without a struggle.
Voting is a powerful tool, but it works only when enough people use it. If we leave the voting to the people who are most enthusiastic about their candidate, Biden will lose. Trump has a lot of fanatical followers, even though his policies on taxes, health care, and the environment are harmful to most of them. Biden ranks higher in opinion polls, but his prospective voters are less passionate. We might not vote if it rains. Or if there are a lot of scary looking Trump supporters lurking around polling places.
If you don’t vote, you are voting for Trump. Think about it, please. Forward this article. Tell your friends.
- Eva Hersh is a family physician. Send your comments and questions to her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org