Here’s why I’m worried about voting on Election Day

I had an enjoyable chat with Bryan Caskey via Zoom today, but I didn’t see this Tweet of his until after:

So I guess I’ll answer it here.

First, it’s not save enough to shop in grocery stores. But we’ve got to do it. Gotta eat. And finally, in recent weeks, people are playing it pretty safe in every store I visit — people wearing masks, staying away from each other, and so forth. Not perfect, but WAY better than a couple of months ago.

Second, grocery shopping is way different from voting.

To give you an idea what I mean… check out this photo from Election Day 2008. It took me an hour and forty minutes to vote that day. Look at the picture and you’ll see why (sorry about the quality):


And that’s what’s got me worried.

Here’s the thing:

I don’t plan on voting by mail. Y’all know how I am. When it comes to turning out with my neighbors and voting, I’m a fierce traditionalist. I get to talking about it, and I’m like Oliver Wendell Douglas on “Green Acres,” blathering on about the importance of the American farmer, with the fife playing “Yankee Doodle” in the background.

And this may be the most important election of my life. I don’t intend to miss it. My wife will probably vote by mail, as she did for the primary. But not me, baby. Election Day is the day, and I do it in person.

But here’s the thing: What if it’s like 2008? OK, so first, we’d have to spread all those people out. That’s probably doable, but what if there are other complicating factors, and what if, when the day is over, I didn’t get to vote?

Or worse, what if I actually GOT the coronavirus, a few days before Election Day, and I can’t go vote — and it’s way too late to apply to do it the other way?

I keep thinking, maybe I should GET a mail-in ballot, but not use it unless for some reason I can’t vote on the DAY, and mail it in then? But I’m pretty sure that’s against the rules.

Anyway, I’ve been worrying about it. You?

Quail Hollow precinct, Nov. 4, 2008.

Quail Hollow precinct, Nov. 4, 2008. Sorry about the quality.

69 thoughts on “Here’s why I’m worried about voting on Election Day

  1. David L Carlton

    Er, yes. I’m 72 and diabetic, so I’ve been ultra careful since early March. I go to buy food and meds and make doctor’s appointments, but mostly I stay here and rely on e-mail and Zoom for my human contact.
    Here in TN, you need an excuse to get an absentee ballot, but being over 60 qualifies as an excuse, and I already used an absentee ballot to vote in the recent primary. The USPS advised mailing it a week in advance, which I did; it arrived two days later (we have online tracking). I’m inclined to to put in for a general election ballot and turn it around fast. We have early voting here, but even the early voting lines can be long, and I expect plenty of enthusiasm this time out. I, too, like the civic ritual of voting, but what’s most attractive about it is the show of human solidarity, which just can’t happen yet.

  2. Barry

    Yes, it’s a silly comparison.

    I’ve already requested absentee votes for me, my wife, and my 19 year old. At our precinct, it’s a nightmare on presidential election dates. If we were to have rain, I could see hundreds just not going to vote because of the logistics at our precinct.

    It’s not comparable to my infrequent visits, early in the morning or very late at night, to the grocery store.

  3. Barry

    “ I don’t plan on voting by mail. Y’all know how I am. When it comes to turning out with my neighbors and voting, I’m a fierce traditionalist.”

    I have no such fondness for the “tradition” of standing in a long line with a lot of people I don’t know.
    My interest is strictly in voting. As long as I get to vote, I’m happy to avoid all precincts, especially this year.

    As stated above, I’ve requested my absentee ballot. When I get it, I’ll vote and likely hand deliver it to the local elections office on my timetable.

    My mother is undergoing significant medical treatment right now. My dad is her primary caretaker. My dad occasionally will go to the grocery store before 7am in their town. However, usually he will ask my winter to get their groceries so he can avoid the stores altogether. This is the advice of the specialist overseeing my mom’s treatment.

    To suggest voting for people like my mom is as simply as a grocery store visit is pure idiocy from the usual suspects.

    1. Bryan Caskey

      Sounds like they should be voting absentee at this point, regardless of the pandemic. If she’s undergoing “significant medical treatment” she probably wouldn’t be out standing in line anyway.

      1. Barry

        Why not? If you can go to a grocery store, you can vote, right?
        They can wheel you in both places.

        1. Bryan Caskey

          Why not?

          Um, you said yourself the advice of the specialist is to avoid stores. If a medical professional is telling your mom and dad to avoid stores, then I’m assuming the advice would apply to anywhere.

          1. Barry

            My mom’s doctor advised her to avoid all stores.

            But voting is safe, right? I mean you stated it yourself. You even referenced Dr Fauci.

            And of course my 74 year old dad, her primary caregiver, should be able to vote in person if it’s safe. After all, as I also said, he will occasionally visit a grocery store before 7am to avoid all crowds.

            Clearly visiting a grocery store and a voting precinct on general election Tuesday is the same thing, with the same hazards, right?

            1. Bryan Caskey

              “You even referenced Dr Fauci.”

              I quoted him.

              “Clearly visiting a grocery store and a voting precinct on general election Tuesday is the same thing, with the same hazards, right?”

              Yes, according to Fauci. Are you saying that voting is more dangerous than going to the grocery store? How? If everyone socially distances and wears a mask, what’s the difference?

              1. Barry

                Whose to say it’s safe at the local grocery store? Just because someone visits for a necessity doesn’t mean it’s safe. It doesn’t mean someone feels it’s safe.

                Are you a very healthy 20 year old?

                Are you a caregiver for a person who is sick?

                Are you someone who avoids the grocery store except for low crowd times like very early morning hours? If so, a grocery store and a voting precinct will be very different places, especially when comparing the precinct on general election Tuesday.

                If you are someone that visits grocery stores at the busiest times possible, stands in long lines at the store for up to and in excess of several hours, then they might be the same. Except, I don’t know anyone that endures that at the grocery store.

                As I have said, my dad will occasionally Visit the grocery store before 7am, when the store is virtually empty. Obviously a very different situation than a voting precinct in November.

              2. Scout

                “If everyone socially distances and wears a mask, what’s the difference?”

                Here are some differences I can imagine might be relevant.

                Length of time – you may potentially spend much longer waiting to vote than you typically do in the grocery store. If the conditions are unsafe (see below), you are getting a larger dose.

                Ability to move freely – in the grocery story if you see someone without a mask standing too close to people, you can walk away, go a different way, or come back to that aisle later with no penalty. If you are in line next to such a person, you will have to stay there or risk losing your spot.

                Quality of ventilation system if waiting inside for extended periods – this goes with the length of time. Even with social distancing, if you are waiting inside with a whole lot of people, the air handling may matter. Masks aren’t perfect – the longer you are in contact with recirculated air with a critical mass of people present – it could eventually matter.

                You can certainly minimize the risk as much as possible and make it safer than it otherwise would have been. But depending on circumstances, there still could be issues. That’s all.

  4. Bill

    What if you stand in line for two hours to do your civic duty but there’s an electoral college in the fake democracy you live in and your vote doesn’t count,just like it’s never counted?

  5. Ken

    Regrettably, too many so-called “conservatives” tend to take this attitude: Don’t let the virus get you down. You just gotta be strong, show you’re not afraid, show some guts, be tough. It’s part of what’s fueled the anti-mask crowd.

    But a virus doesn’t care one whit about toughness.

    I will be voting in person. But I live in a relatively rural district. So I’m not going to criticize anyone who is concerned about doing so or discourage them from voting by mail. That would be irresponsible.

    1. Barry

      At 7:55am this morning, a coworker of mine texted me. He was very upset. He’s what we would call an anti mask conservative.

      A gentleman in his neighborhood died last night from COVID. Another member of the man’s family is in the hospital with COVID.

      He already seems to be changing his mind – but it’s just some texts so I can’t tell for sure.

      It’s amazing how a personal experience can change one’s tune.

      1. Mark

        It’s too bad we don’t have an administration inclined to provide useful virus information – like hospitalizations and deaths from Covid by zip code and by county. That might make people wake up in SC.

        Clearly, many people have bought into the narrative that confirmed cases don’t matter, which, perversely is somewhat true – just not in the way they think it doesn’t matter (with the real infection rate actually being much, much higher).

    2. Bryan Caskey

      Are you putting Dr. Fauci in the category of a tough-guy conservative? Again, here’s what he said:

      “They have X’s every six or more feet,” he added. “And it says, ‘Don’t leave this spot until the person in front of you left their spot.’ And you can do that, if you go and wear a mask, if you observe the physical distancing, and don’t have a crowded situation, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do that.”

      1. Ken

        No, I’m calling YOU that kind of conservative. The kind that quotes Fauci to insinuate that people who go to grocery stores but are concerned about voting in person are just whiney weenies. As if Fauci’s general observation can be applied to every individual circumstance. As Barry points out, going to a grocery store when it’s unlikely there will be many people there is wholly different from standing in line with a lot of people for an extended period of time on voting day.

        1. Bryan Caskey

          “No, I’m calling YOU that kind of conservative.”

          Lol, Okay. Glad we got that cleared up. I’ve been called worse. 🙂

          “The kind that quotes Fauci to insinuate that people who go to grocery stores but are concerned about voting in person are just whiney weenies.”

          I wasn’t insinuating anything of the kind. I certainly didn’t say that. Perhaps you inferred that.

          I thought it was relevant to the discussion that a top US epidemiologist opined on the topic. He said that there was no reason for people who have no underlying conditions and following guidelines of social distancing and wearing masks couldn’t vote in person.

          Facui also continued: “I mean, obviously if you’re a person who is compromised physically or otherwise, you don’t want to take the chance,” he said.

          1. Ken

            Glad you were finally able to get around to showing that Fauci’s view isn’t as broad-brush and lacking in nuance as your tweet implied.

  6. Dave Crockett

    For the first time in our lives, my wife and I requested primary and general election absentee ballots back in March. We both voted absentee in the primary and are still on the fence a bit about the general election. The President has, unfortunately, caused us to have concern that even if we absentee vote early that the ballots might not get counted. First class postage SHOULD guarantee at least delivery to the Board of Elections but, after that, we are at least concerned that they might get lost in the shuffle.

    Our precinct has usually run pretty smoothly and, if the weather is decent, social distancing shouldn’t be an issue. But if it is a driving rain, there’s very little cover outside.

    So, I guess we will watch the long-range weather forecast and, if it looks really bad, we’ll go on and cross our fingers with the absentee ballots. Otherwise, I suspect we’ll go to the polling place and take the necessary precautions that 67-year-olds ought to be taking in this Year of the Pandemic.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah, I meant to mention that — suppose I did decide to vote by mail? How would I know that vote would get there and be counted, in light of Trump’s concerted efforts to destroy the Postal Service.

      I suppose if he realized it might slow down the mail even further, he’d start destroying Ike’s Interstate highway system.

      By the way, that’s another thing that causes me to marvel at those who went before us and despair over how useless we have become.

      Remember when our government used to DO stuff? Like build the Interstates, and pass Medicare, etc?

      The last time we TRIED to do anything was the ACA, and while I applaud the effort, it was pretty watered-down compared to past achievements…

      1. Ken

        Someone else wistful at the loss of direction and the “sense that once [we] belonged to something amazing”

      2. Barry

        Hand deliver your ballot to the elections office on your time table. I wouldn’t trust trump’s postal service director at all.

      3. Bryan Caskey

        “Yeah, I meant to mention that — suppose I did decide to vote by mail? How would I know that vote would get there and be counted…”

        I think that’s one very big problem with voting by mail. You don’t really have anyway to confirm your vote was submitted.

        1. Barry

          It’s always n faith.

          When you hit a button On a voting machine and they put your paper into another machine, you walk out. You don’t follow the machine to the elections office or watch them tabulate the data. You aren’t there when they report the data unless that’s your job.

          You assume it counted your vote. You can’t prove it.

            1. Barry

              Well having my vote at the precinct is meaningless if it’s not counted.

              There are never any guarantees in the entire process.

                1. Barry


                  In my county in 2012, the local radio station had several callers on election night as they gave out the results saying that one of the election machines was mishandled at the precinct I am assigned to. It was supposedly mishandled as it was being packed up to take back to the elections office.

                  After a few days, the best the office could say was they didn’t think it had impacted the election. No idea what that even means. Clearly they didn’t know.

                  And of course it’s always possible. There are no guarantees.

  7. bud

    First, it’s not safe enough to shop in grocery stores. But we’ve got to do it.


    Not to nitpick but actually you don’t. Many places have curbside pickup where you order on line and someone puts your groceries in the back of your car contact free.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I’ll just say this: Anyone who would put out all those green bananas that won’t be ripe by Christmas cannot be trusted to select my groceries for me…

        1. Barry

          I think they do a good job. My wife uses this service at Walmart quite frequently ( normally we go to food lion) but we’ve been quite happy with the service.

          If they are out of soothing, they usually give you the store brand, but give you the next biggest size.

          We’ve landed quite a few 5lb bags of sugar and other items when we initially only selected a small bag.

          1. Scout

            Lowes Foods is also very good for this. They will call you to check if they need switch something out, and they have an app you can use to tell them when you are on the way, so they have your stuff ready when you pull up. I’ve been quite happy with it.

  8. bud

    As for voting, I was going to vote by mail but given this post office debacle I may reconsider. I suspect lines will be shorter this year. Don’t really get this sentimental attachment to voting in person but I do want my vote for Jamie Harrison to count. My POTUS vote won’t actually matter thanks to the electoral college so I wouldn’t bother if that was the only race on the ballot. Why can’t have an actual democracy?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      What if Joe won South Carolina?

      Yep, the odds are WAY against it, but what if things shifted so far in the right direction that SC was in play?

      All we would need, if we could get close, would be for people to stop saying “My POTUS vote won’t actually matter thanks to the electoral college…”

      People go around talking about the hopelessness of being a Democrat in South Carolina as though the Republican always had 90 percent of the vote or something.

      It’s not like that, folks. It’s like this:

      Republican President Donald Trump, by comparison, holds a five-point lead in the historically red state over Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, 49 percent to 44 percent — though Morning Consult’s tracking data shows Trump’s margin has shrunk from around 15 percent in early June….

      Shift another 6 percent, after having already shifted 10, and Joe wins.

      Is it likely? No, because most white South Carolinians of this generation lack a bone in their hands that you need in order to pull the lever for a Democrat. Some sort of evolutionary mutation.

      But folks, it’s possible.

      You essentially just SAID it’s possible. You said you’re going to make sure to vote for Jaime. If Jaime can win, so can Joe. In fact, Jaime probably doesn’t win unless Joe does way better than expected.

      What will it take? I don’t know. But I know fatalism could prevent it…

      1. Mark

        I am a lifelong Republican. But that doesn’t mean I always vote for the GOP candidate. I didn’t vote for Trump last time and I won’t in November, either. I am voting for at least three Democrats this cycle: Joe, James and Mo. None of their Republican candidates deserves my vote; ever.

        The hurdle for Trump to loose the electoral vote in South Carolina isn’t much higher than a speed bump this year. Bud should vote as if the election really matters (who thinks it doesn’t, anyway?). Anyone who votes for a third party candidate this cycle is actually voting FOR Trump. If all those third party idiotic voters had not voted that way in 2016, Trump likely would have lost. But maybe it’s better that he won then, so he has to run on his performance this time around. \

        He is the worst President this country has ever seen. Well, at least since Grant or before.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Who are James and Mo?

          My big three are Joe, Jaime and Adair…

          That’s all I have definite plans to vote for this time. I haven’t studied down-ballot stuff, really. My state representative, Micah Caskey, has no opposition. I’d vote for him, but he doesn’t need me to. Which means there are NO Republicans in contested races I’m planning to vote for at this point. Which is pretty much unprecedented.

          I actually started writing a blog post about that several weeks ago, but as sometimes happens, it got too long and involved and I finally gave up on finishing it. I’ll have to take a look at it again and see if I can rescue and publish it…

          1. Mark

            Jamie, not James, Harrison. Mo Brown is running against Ralph Norman in the 5th Congressional district.

            Is it me or does South Carolina feel more competitive this year than in any other election cycle? I don’t mean between just D’s and R’s (since they have been the same “Conservative” SC candidates over time) but that the conservatism has returned to the small “c” idea and there is more of a diversity in thoughtful, slightly to somewhat right of center candidates across the state?

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Well, it is more competitive. The most obvious reason for that is the remarkable run Jaime Harrison is making for the Senate. He’s doing a tremendous job at a critical moment in our history.

              Adair Boroughs is a less-visible example. To any reasonable person with an open mind, it would seem that she’d run away with the 2nd District. Joe Wilson has nothing to offer that recommends him, and she is a viable alternative. But that district is drawn to elect whoever has the R after his name, with absolutely no reference to quality or merit.

              Still, she has a chance. If Jaime wins, if Joe does better than expected… she has a chance. And that’s unusual…

                1. Barry

                  Mauricus “Moe” Brown was born in Belton, South Carolina to his 16 year-old mother. Being raised in a zip code where success is hard to come by, Moe would later become the first in his family to graduate college. His success didn’t come without setbacks, including the loss of his brother and father. Moe became a standout wide receiver for the University of South Carolina Gamecock football team from 2006 to 2009, serving as captain his senior year. Moe left USC with a double major in Marketing and Finance, and a deep desire to serve his home state. After graduating from USC, Moe worked for six years under Republican Governor Nikki Haley at the South Carolina Department of Commerce. Moe traveled the world and helped recruit over 5,000 new jobs to the Palmetto State and nearly $1 billion in new capital investment. For five years, Moe served as a member, including a year as President, of the University of South Carolina Association of Letterman, an organization made up of all former student athletes at USC. From 2014 to 2019, Moe served on the Board of Visitors of the University of South Carolina and Darla Moore School Young Alumni Board.

      2. Leon

        Brad, I think African-Americans may suffer the same sort of evolutionary mutation. They have a difficult time pulling the lever for any candidate other than a Democrat. Your generalization about white South Carolinians is just nonsense. I would bet that a lot more white South Carolinians percentage-wise vote for a Democrat than African-Americans vote for a Republican, Libertarian, or whatever.

    2. Scout

      We just need to pass at the state level that our electoral votes be cast proportional to the state’s popular vote. Either that or the other movement going around to get states to agree to direct their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. Either of these would allow your vote to count, Bud.

  9. Bryan Caskey

    I’m going to vote in person, socially distance, and wear a mask. I’ll know my vote is counted, not rely on the USPS to do anything, and I’ll do it the morning of election day before I go to work.

    Also, if you vote by mail, how are you going to get one of the cute little “I voted” stickers?

  10. Bryan Caskey

    DHEC has the percent positivity rate at 11.5% today, which is much better than I was expecting. The benchmarks we need to hit are under 10% and under 5%.

    1. Scout

      I know, it’s awesome, but don’t jinx it!!!!!

      I’m hoping going back to school doesn’t jinx our trends.

      See, masks work, y’all.

      1. Scout

        Well, it bounced back up to 18 or so. I expect it will continue to have an up and down nature like it has, but hopefully the trend will still continue to be downward.

  11. Barry

    Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana was on his Twitter yesterday proclaiming if it’s safe to go the the grocery store, it’s safe to go vote.

    Today it was announced he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

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