Protect Your Vote

I’m of the generation where my mother always told me, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” For a lot of women, that instruction led to a very quiet childhood. As the election fast approaches, I find myself loathe to say anything about the possible outcome, not because there is nothing “nice” to say, but there isn’t a lot that is “hopeful” to say. Yes, I know the polls still indicate Joe Biden is in the lead, but it feels like the outcome of this election has nothing to do with who is in the lead and everything to do with who has the most power to steal the election. I don’t think for a moment that Trump is remotely concerned with winning fairly, because he knows he can win through unjust, dishonest, and undemocratic tactics. 

In many ways, Trump is only building on the tactics Republicans have been using for decades to disenfranchise voters, practices like gerrymandering and purging voters. Not to mention the effects of mass incarceration of people of color leading to the loss of voting rights by those convicted of a felony. Still, we Democrats have believed, and continue to, that the rule of law and democratic institutions will save us. We’ve focused so much on this in fact that we never saw the attack on the post office coming. Nor, have we fully grasped how that attack could turn this election.

Now, with DeJoy at the helm the US Post Office has been so damaged as to throw the delivery of mail-in ballots into question. According to Amanda Marcotte of Salon the post office has informed the state of Pennsylvania that “mail-in voting simply won’t work, due to funding cuts and slowdowns.” And this wasn’t an accident. Trump knows full well that a majority of those mail-in ballots will be cast by Democrats. Now, he is actively rallying his supporters and Republican enablers to believe mail-in ballots are fraudulent, without any evidence to support that claim. As he maligns mail-in ballots and encourages his supporters to vote in person, he is setting in place a strategy to declare victory on election night, before those, largely Democratic, mail-in ballots are counted. It’s a major plan to disenfranchise Democratic voters and steal the election and it could work. Combine it with his rhetoric to incite violence in his right-wing militia loving supporters, and violence following the election isn’t that far-fetched. Just read Amanda Marcotte’s Salon article from September 3rd if you can stomach a blow-by-blow description.–in-fact-he-has-a-bunch-of-them/

It’s time, (despite sounding like a pessimist) take this potential catastrophe seriously and prepare. Have a plan to protect your vote. If you can vote in person, do so – either through early voting or on election day. Here’s a link for the dates and times for early voting  If you are voting on November 3rd, election day, be sure you are registered, know your voting place, plan for when and how you are going, and be prepared to wait in line as long as it takes. Polling places open at 6 am and close at 9 pm. If you get there and you are told you aren’t registered, you should be offered an affidavit ballot. If not ask for one. If, given the pandemic, voting by mail is still the best option for you, request your ballot immediately and consider turning it into the election board office in person, before election day. Here’s a link to the portal to request an absentee ballot If you have to rely on the post office, be sure to fill out your ballot and mail it in as soon as you receive it. For more information, including the physical address of the Cortland County Board of Elections office, go to the election board website listed here

None of us want to think about what four more years of Trump will do to destroy our democracy and our lives, but pretending to be ostriches and sticking our heads in the sand isn’t going to stop if from happening. Having a plan to protect your ballot maybe the only thing to save democracy, if Trump pulls out all the stops and endeavors to declare victory before all ballots are counted. If that happens, we have to be ready to respond with our voices and our feet if necessary. This election is our future and the future of democracy. We can only continue to fight to end racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and save the planet, if we save our democracy by making our votes count. Protect yours. It’s our only hope.