This primary season has proven to be a bit of a dry run in elections preparation as the nation looks forward to the general election in November. The Massachusetts primary is in two weeks; many of our members from other states have already conducted their primaries. Irrespective of the timing, this election season has us all experimenting with both traditional and new methods of casting ballots. Regardless of how you choose to vote, you must vote but not just because the outcome of the election is critical.
This election is really now about our ability to vote. There is no question on the ballot that is overtly about the future of free and fair elections, but that is what is at stake. Simultaneously, we are watching doubt being sown about the fairness of the election while impediments are being constructed to suppress that same vote. (Maybe someone can explain to my why the U.S. Postal Service, which handles tens of millions of tax filings, now says it can’t assure the timely delivery of by-mail ballots.) Perhaps more insidious is the subliminal discouragement directed at voters that is designed to just make voters give up and not even try to vote. Those missed votes will not show up as a pile of completed but undelivered ballots, but they are every much the same suppressed votes.
Just like everything else, the solution to this problem is fighting back. In this instance, fighting back means the heretofore simple act of voting. You have choices to ensure you are not disenfranchised. The cleanest choice is to vote in person on election day or to take advantage of the vote early option that is available almost anywhere. You can pick the day and time you want to appear to vote over a three- or four-day period and avoid the lines and crowds. If in-person voting concerns you, request a mail-in ballot now from your town or city clerk. Once your ballot arrives, fill it out right away and either mail it back with as much lead time as you can to minimize the risk of late delivery or, better yet, swing by your town or city hall and drop it off. Every municipality in the country allows for voters to physically drop off their completed ballot. Many towns have secured drop boxes to make drop off a 24-hour-a-day option. Ask your town to set one up if they do not already have one.
If you do what is suggested above, you can assure that your ballot counts and is counted, and by doing so, you will be doing your part to ensure the future of free and fair elections. The Federal Elections Commission doesn’t even have enough presidentially-appointed members to meet, let alone enforce the rules. So that leaves it up to you and me to preserve this building block of American democracy, an ideal for which many have died in war to preserve. If you choose to not find the time to exercise your right to vote, then don’t complain when the choice is no longer yours to make.