Call me stupid, as some of you undoubtedly will, given that I have the trifecta: “advanced” age, a compromised immune system, and a chronic lung condition. But I’m planning to vote in person, and hope that others who can possibly do so will too, especially in battleground states.
As we’ve been warned, there’s a serious risk that Trump will be ahead at the end of the evening on November 3rd even if he’s actually voted out of office once all the votes are counted. That’s because, according to some reports, a majority of Republicans plan to vote in person while, at least as of now, far more Democrats plan to vote by mail. Trump would then declare victory, claim that many of the mail in ballots are fraudulent, refuse to respect the actual result of the election, and sow chaos. Regardless of the final outcome after all the inevitable litigation–resolved by what could be a a 6-3 Supreme Court Republican majority in the wake of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s tragic passing–this would unquestionably be a mess that will inflict lasting damage on our democracy.
In her September 17 column, Peggy Noonan, a Republican (and former Reagan speechwriter) who often rises above the partisan fray, summed-up my feelings almost perfectly:
[I]f you’re not in the U.S. military or away from home, and not sick or especially vulnerable to illness, and if you haven’t already voted early, sent in your ballot or requested a ballot, you should try hard to vote in person. This will help election-night numbers align more closely with ultimate reality, bolster the system, and help avoid the mischief of political operators. Mask up, glove up, maintain your distance, and show up. “It’s inconvenient.” Democracy is inconvenient. Do your part.
The only note I’d add is that in many states, NY included, you can vote in person even if you have requested a mail-in ballot. That’s what my wife and I have done, as a precaution in case my lungs act up or either of us is otherwise unable to vote in person when the time comes. Just don’t follow the President’s urging to vote twice.
Is there any health risk to voting in person? Probably. But if we wear our masks and keep our distance, I believe the risk would be negligible for many who have been planning on voting by mail. In any case, for me the risk is worth taking given the enormous stakes, and I hope to vote on October 24th when early voting begins in New York. I understand and respect that others may reach different conclusions as they decide how to vote. And, health considerations aside, voters who live in those states where mail-in ballots are processed and counted prior to Election Day may have good reason to vote by mail, provided they do so early.
On October 12, 2016, I wrote a post urging that all my friends who said they wouldn’t vote because they couldn’t stand Hillary go the the polls in order to avoid either a Trump presidency or the havoc he would wreak if he lost by only a close margin and insisted that the election had been rigged. The danger now is even greater given Trump’s incessant attacks on mail-in voting. My sister-in-law, in her 70’s, has volunteered to mask-up and serve as a poll watcher in Florida. I salute her, and all those who will consider voting in person–early if possible!
Requested absentee ballots months ago for my husband and I. Now plan to vote in person durng early voting and bring blank ballots with us to turn in.
Agree with your plan.
We’re ready with absentee ballots if our polling place looks too crowded or something unpredictable (as usual) should occur.
But we will go in person, hoping for the best.
That’s great Leslie—and I’m hearing from a lot of folks in a bunch of other states—Texas, Illinois, North Carolina, Va, Ct, Mass—that they plan to do the same. But none more important—or probably as important—as Florida!
Yes, cover every base!
Get your absentee ballot, then go in person for early voting !
Don’t count on the mail, use it as a last resort.
My husband Merrill and I have been working to register Dems in Florida since 2018. Voter registration deadline is October 5, so if you have friends or relatives there, check in. For those of us who live and breathe politics, it’s shocking how many folks aren’t registered. Registration can be done online, even by Florida residents who happen to be out of state.
As to VBM, as Rich’s link shows, Florida begins processing and “counting” ballots in early October. The system, if it works, should tally VBM and early voting ballots at the same time and in the same fashion as vote-in-person ballots on 11/3.
Merrill and I plan to mask up and show up for poll-watching shifts starting on 10/19.
We’re grateful to the phenomenal folks running the Florida voter protection program. We’re all in this together.
I agree with you that voting in person will make tallies possible sooner. I see two problems. In many states, the number of polling places has been reduced really drastically. That means voter will need two things: transportation to polls and the ability to wait in extremely long lines. Many people can afford neither public transportation – even assuming it is available, which it is not in rural areas – nor can they afford to wait on line so long as to miss work. So if you can take a cab, bring a chair, and have a flexible job, go for it. But be aware that in Virginia there has already been an instance of voter intimidation by Trump supporters during early voting.
I fear that scary vote by mail scenarios will lead some people not to vote at all.
There is nothing wrong with not knowing the result the night of. Washington State, which has phased this in since the 80’s, often does not get result for two days. And for most of our history, instant results could not have been possible.
So while I agree with you, and voted in person in the Massachusetts primary, I think it is important to assure people that delayed results are not inherently unreliable, to teach them how to fill out VBM ballots properly, to tell them how they can track and “cure” VBM ballots if necessary, and tourge them to mail them in as soon as possible. That will allow early counting in some states and will “flatten the curve” of the postal delivery challenge.
I think you are right about those of us who can relatively easily vote in person, but we are the few and the lucky. I respect your giving this frightening election so much thought.
Thanks Cynthia—not surprisingly, your comments are extremely thoughtful. I would certainly agree that there’s nothing wrong with voting by mail, and that there shouldn’t be a problem not knowing the results of the election on 11/3. My concern is with the chaos and damage Trump will incite if there’s a significant delay and he he falsely claims, as we know he will, that his loss is due solely to an ‘illegitimate’ election that was “rigged” by “fraudulent” mail-in votes. Hopefully, we’ll win Florida on 11/3, which could go a long way to disposing of this saga.
We will vote in person. I did vote by mail in for a local election and found I could call my town hall and make sure it got there in time.
Good for you all, and for your sister-in-law! I am going to wear a good mask and giant coat, and take a brownbag dinner like Michelle Obama suggested. We’re also waiting for absentee ballots to arrive now but planning to take them with us to vote in person in Brooklyn as early as possible. (When I last checked on the Board of Elections website, it wasn’t clear whether one may vote in person after requesting an absentee ballot, but sounds like that’s fine, and we’ll just bring them with us as backup in case we need it.) My parents are doing the same in NC. My brother is voting absentee in Florida as soon as he gets his absentee ballot, because he can’t get back there from St Thomas without flying.
This is spot on. Definitely planning to vote in person precisely for the reasons you reference. Not that you’ve raised the issue, I plan to urge all my friends to do the same.
I’m in the higher risk group too but will be voting in person regardless and using all safety precautions available – masked and distanced best I can. it’s THAT important to get our resident nutcase ou of office.