We all need to come to grips with the unpleasant reality that we’re staring straight into the face of a pandemic. No one knows how severe the repercussions will be. It behooves all of us, no matter where we may be, to prepare to the best of our ability for the rocky times that may lie ahead.
Social distancing is the new hot safety tip, so we can #flatten the curve, and keep our health care system from getting overwhelmed. Keep six feet of space around you whenever possible in public, and go out as seldom as you can. Even if your local stores no longer have the inventory to support large scale prepping, I think it’s foolish to criticize anyone or be embarrassed for stocking up on a smaller scale. For those of us who haven’t set aside much prior to this crisis, there’s some real value in going to the store only twice a month, instead of every week.
But voting…unlike eating, that’s just something we do every so often. I’ve never really thought before about the possibility of it going away, not on any large scale. My husband and I own a small construction company, so we’ve been voting by mail for years. I got tired of getting left out because we were working an out-of-town job. But a pandemic could very well convince large numbers of people to stay home and not vote.
Fortunately, there’s a simple solution. Vote by mail. Cancelling an election is a horrible precedent–we don’t want to let any of our civil rights get eroded. Yes, we have to agree to things like quarantines, extraordinary measures that we’d oppose at normal times. But with only a little foresight (in most cases), voting needn’t be affected much at all.
I can only speak specifically to Americans here, so I apologize in advance to those from other countries. But most democratic systems should have something in place to facilitate voting for those who are physically disabled, and I’d strongly suggest contacting your representatives to see about expanding this to cover the general population.
For Americans, I’m going to recommend going to this site: https://www.vote411.org/. It’s useful in a lot of ways–you can register to vote there and find out about upcoming elections in your area. And the third thing down on their home page is a clickable map with all fifty states. Each link will give you info about how to cast a vote by mail (sometimes called absentee voting) in your state.
For some, it’s already handled. Residents of states like Oregon and Colorado already do all their voting via the postal service. In my home state of California, it’s super-easy. You only have to sign up for it once, and they’ll keep mailing you ballots until you tell them to stop. For others, you have to register to vote by mail for each election, but they either don’t require you to give a reason at all, or the reasons they allow are pretty broad. Anyone who wants to should be able to qualify.
That covers most states, thank goodness. But others, like Texas (which has a large population), make you meet certain requirements, and they do not include a possible pandemic.
To qualify for an absentee ballot, you must be:
- Absent from your county of residence on Election Day and during the early voting period
- Sick or have a disability that prevents you from voting in person without assistance
- 65 or older
- Confined to jail serving a misdemeanor sentence; or confined to jail without bail pending trial for a felony or appeal of a felony conviction
And Connecticut is even worse, from the point-of-view of pandemic safety (https://www.vote411.org/connecticut). Not only do they require you give a reason that doesn’t include not wanting to risk your life to vote, but they also require you to go, in person, to register for this at the town clerk’s office. Really not a good idea under the current circumstances.
The good news is, we’ve got time to address this before the general election in November. Okay, it’s likely that the first wave of this thing will have passed by then. But the Spanish flu came in multiple waves, which could happen with COVID-19, so we need to plan ahead. For most of us, that will simply mean registering in advance. The links to do that are all at https://www.vote411.org/.
If you’re unfortunate enough to live in a state that will disenfranchise you if you can’t jump through their hoops, now is the time to make some noise. Contact your local congressman/woman and senators. Email your governor. And you can contact President Trump here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/.
If enough people speak out, they’ll have to give us our civil rights. Don’t let archaic laws strip you of liberties that our soldiers have fought and bled for you to have. Make the government listen to we the people!
Let’s make it happen. Happy voting. : )