Should I go ahead and vote? Have you?

A friend who voted today took this picture while waiting in the queue.

A friend who voted today took this picture while waiting in the queue.

I’m starting to feel doubts. They may not affect my behavior, but I’m having them.

Y’all know how strongly I feel about the importance of turning out and voting with one’s neighbors (which is way communitarian), in person, on actual Election Day. It is to me a major, deeply meaningful ritual of life in America.

But… this is an extraordinary situation, is it not?

First, we have the most important election in my lifetime, one in which we will either save our republic by electing a normal, decent human being as our highest elected official, or drag the country — and the rest of the world, which has been holding its breath for four years waiting for us to fix this — down further and deeper into the mire, the utter degradation.

So, you know, I need to vote, and it needs to count.

Second, we’re in the strangest situation of my life, in which so much about normality has gone out the window. For instance, I may never again go to work at an office, or anywhere other than my home — which overthrows thousands of years of human social and economic behavior. And that’s just one piece of it. I mean, 220,000 Americans are dead from this thing, and it’s far, far from over.

So… maybe I should make an exception in this instance.

Up to now, I’ve held to my resolve to wait until Nov. 3. But each day, more friends and family members go out and vote early — or technically, vote “in-person absentee.”

Which on the one hand supports my plan, by taking pressure off and reducing crowds on the day of. But what if that day is still even more insane, and things break down? I’m pretty sure I’ll get to vote anyway, but what sort of societal breakdown will occur while we’re waiting for all the votes to be counted, and a clear winner to emerge and be accepted?

I dunno. What do y’all think?

For that matter, what do y’all do? What have you done already? Some of you have reported in, but what about everybody else? Who’s voted by mail? Who’s done the “in-person absentee” thing? Who’s waiting for Election Day?

And why?

I would find it helpful to know…

14 thoughts on “Should I go ahead and vote? Have you?

  1. David L Carlton

    Here in Tennessee you have to have an excuse to vote absentee, but being over 60 is an excuse, so I went that route. I’m 72, overweight, and diabetic, so I’m hyper-concerned about infection, but I was also concerned that my ballot make it in as early as possible, in case I screwed up somehow and needed time to fix it. I applied super early, got the ballot on Saturday, September 19, and turned it around immediately. No drop boxes in TN, so I had to use the USPS; it made it to the Davidson County Election Commission on Thursday, September 24–picked up on Monday and took three days to travel five miles. The Tennessee Secretary of State’s tracker didn’t report it until Monday, September 28, however. To my frustration, it doesn’t report whether or not the ballot has been validated. I finally wrote the Secretary of State for clarification. Their office, I must say, was quick to respond and helpful, informing me that if the tracker reports that the ballot has been received it has also been validated. I suggested that if that’s so, the tracker should *say* so; she said she’d pass that on. In any case, the ballot is in and certain to be counted; it would be nicer if my vote could make any difference in this hyper-red state.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Thanks for sharing, professor!

      It’s always good to get an update from Tennessee. We hear a lot from my wife’s family in Memphis, but you’re about my only correspondent in the Nashville area.

      Speaking of updates — it’s still weird for me to see Tennessee described as a “hyper-red state.” In my day — and remember, I was covering politics there more than 40 years ago — here’s the way it worked in the three states of Tennessee: East Tennessee voted Republican (and had since Lincoln’s day), Middle Tennessee was dependably Democratic. And all statewide general elections were settled in West Tennessee, which was the swing “state.”

      And West Tennessee, of course, was settled by what happened in Carroll County. It was famous as the statewide bellwether. I used to cover local government in Carroll County, and the county commission was split right down the middle. A twitch either way determined how things would go. Their meetings had a tendency to go late into the night, and on a day when I’d had several other meetings. So when I dragged back into my office after midnight, I’d often be writing five or six stories through deadline the next morning (afternoon paper, you see).

      I had made friends with the lawyers at two law firms in Huntingdon. If I wanted to know what was happening around there, I’d just drop by and see those guys, or call them on the phone, and find out EVERYTHING. (For instance, one day on deadline I heard there had been a major embezzlement at one of the local banks, so I called one of these guys to see if he’d heard anything. Turns out he was the bank’s attorney, and he was glad I’d called because he was trying to draft a press release about it. He said, “How about if I just tell you everything I know, and then you tell me what to use in the release?” I said that sounded like a plan. Within the hour, my editor was amazed at the completeness of my story.)

      Anyway, my point was — to operate in that town, each of those firms had a Republican partner and a Democratic partner. So they had the bases covered.

      I imagine Carroll County is sort of different now…

      Yep. I just looked. Trump got 75 percent of the vote there in 2016…

  2. Barry

    My family voted almost 2 weeks ago. In fact, most everyone I know has already voted.

    I was glad to do it.

    No, I don’t want to go stand in a long line on Election Day with countess others I don’t know and fit in with everyone else’s schedule. I’ve always hated it. I much prefer doing it on my schedule.

  3. Holly Gatling

    Brad, I’ve voted or helped my mother, who voted when she was 100, in all the legal voting scenarios. To me, it is a civic duty, not a ritualistic activity. I will be voting today so that if I die or become otherwise incapacitated before Nov. 3, my vote will be counted.

  4. Sally

    For the past two election cycles, I’ve voted in person. Will again this year. Never understood why people wait in line to vote early, so they don’t have to wait in line to vote on Election Day. Actually, I didn’t have to wait in line very long at all in 2016 or 2018. Probably due to all the early and/or absentee voting.

  5. Dave Crockett

    My wife and I voted in-person absentee almost two weeks ago. We’d requested mail-in absentee ballots and voted by mail in the primary. We’d planned to vote in-person on election day because of concerns about the whole mail-in process, but decided at age 67 that the vagaries of weather and social distancing requirements at our regular polling place next month made voting early a better choice. It took just over a half hour on a mild Friday afternoon and everyone was masked and socially distancing in Walhalla.

    By the way, though we’d not planned it, our decision was a great chance to see how the safety measures to prevent fraud work. Sure enough, in both cases, the folks checking credentials noted that we’d received mail-in ballots and requested that we hand the unopened envelopes to them for invalidation and shredding prior to stepping up to the voting machines.

  6. jim catoe

    My wife and I voted by mail in absentee ballot. We were notified yesterday that our ballots had been received.
    On a somewhat related matter, I am weary of the interminable Graham/Harrison television spots. I realize that both campaigns have endless cash reserves, but this has reached the point of absurdity. Anyone else feeling my pain?

  7. randle

    We voted absentee in person. We requested ballots back in May and waited with growing alarm when they did not arrive when promised. They arrived about a week late because the company Richland County contracted to mail them out, failed to do so — so I am told. Some glitches are expected, as this is Richland County. Add in the ongoing pandemic bungling and expected high turnout, and it was just asking for trouble to try voting at the polls on Nov. 3 — my preferred method.
    Returning our ballots was a piece of cake. Went through the drive-thru on Harden Street; no waiting. Our ballots have been marked as received. Not nearly as much fun as seeing friends and neighbors and checking turnout, but I got stickers and the lady taking the ballots was nice.
    I am concerned that if you wait and Covid numbers surge and the flu hits, it could be risky for you to go to the polls. Cases are rising quickly around the country, and SC could take a big hit because people are being their usual stupid selves.

  8. Mark Stewart

    Voted in person absentee. I normally always vote on election day, but the polling place for my precinct is a dingy little hallway with one way in/out. So that was a hard pass this year.

    Voting early took 5 minutes and I experienced no line. Might do it again in the future. Nice to know my ballot is (or at least was) at the election office and not any of 10,000 other places.

  9. Norm Ivey

    We voted by mail a few days ago. We normally walk to the precinct to cast our votes. It has a very civic opportunity feel to it, and I’ve always enjoyed the experience.
    On the other hand, voting by mail was so convenient, I may never go back to in person voting.

  10. Jbogle

    I have voted. But let’s talk about masks.
    Long ago I talked with my parents about the Second World War, and rationing came up. Like most Americans they didn’t like it, missed many things they had to give up, but cooperated. It was for the better good of the country and the troops fighting the war.
    Now we have masks. Which all science tells us will lower or prevent the spread of the virus. Now don’t get me wrong: I hate wearing a mask. It’s uncomfortable, I fog my glasses when I breathe, and it’s worse in hot weather. But real science, which I believe in, tells me it works. And it’s for the better good.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *