With a Couple of Tweaks at the Local Level
The obvious: In a well-functioning democracy, all eligible voters should be assured of not only their ability to cast a ballot, but that it also will be counted. That the U.S. is challenged on both counts by this President is, perhaps, the best of the many, many reasons to turn him out of office. (Indeed, it’s his fear of such a result that drives his desire to cripple the U.S. mail.)
The antidote to what ails us, of course, is simply voting! And, despite his best efforts, Trump is essentially hamstrung, because while he might be able to slow down the mail (including prescription drugs, unemployment checks, and all sorts of other things his own voters depend on), he cannot stop the mail entirely.
So, here are some simple steps to ensure your ballot counts:
First, request a mail-in ballot NOW. Contact your local or state Board of Elections. Most jurisdictions let you request one online. Requesting it early means you’ll get one of the first batches of ballots to go out after your state starts sending them (typically 21-45 days in advance of the election).
Second, cast your ballot right away. There is no need to wait until closer to election day (if you have made up your mind and if you have not –no worries) and returning your ballot well in advance of November 3rd will allow ample time for delivery.
Third, be aware of the rules in your state governing mail-in ballots. Again, check with your Board of Elections, and/or read your ballot CAREFULLY. Some states have loosened rules to make it easier to vote during a pandemic (waiving witness requirements, for example). Whatever the particular rules are, follow them to the letter.
Fourth, make sure your ballot is received ON TIME. Many states put a bar code on the return envelope so that they can know who has already voted and are able to verify receipt. OR, if you have any doubt about the Postal Service’s ability to deliver your ballot in a timely manner, seek out alternatives. Some jurisdictions will have “drop-boxes” in central locations; if your municipal offices are open, you may be able to simply drop it off at the local Board of Elections office.
Fifth, if there is no such drop box BEFORE election day, there will surely be one on election day itself. And, you will neither have to stand in line with strangers nor go into the voting room.
Sixth, if worse comes to worst and you find yourself at risk of being disenfranchised, find a member of the Press to whom you can tell your story. The media will be on high alert right up through election day, and your experience could be part of a BIG story if there is enough effective suppression going on.
A highly effective fail-safe could be to station drop-boxes outside of all polling places on Election Day. Those would be controlled by election workers (not the post office), who would simply deliver the deposited ballots to the local Elections office after the polls had closed.
Most likely, Trump is just blustering. The USPS and its people take pride in their age-old institution and in their ability to get their job done through all manner of adversity — come rain or shine! And Trump himself would seem to have little to gain by compelling people to cast their votes early. All the polls have him losing, and with the first mail-in ballots slated to be sent out in a matter of weeks, a savvier politician would likely want more time to press his/her case to the voting public.
For all the bluster and malevolence, it’s important to remember that Trump is essentially cornered and grasping (gasping?) at straws. He has played his highest card and tipped his hand much too soon.
Now we must play our cards — wisely and timely!
A note to readers: Almost 900,000 people have already signed a petition to urge the removal of Louis DeJoy, the Trump donor and ally spearheading the mail slow-down as Postmaster General. I urge you to add your name.