What individual Vermonters can do to make this election work
(Editor’s note: today marks the Vermont Daily debut of the “Fractals of Change” column by Tom Evslin, a novelist, inventor, IT and energy entrepreneur, and former Cabinet-level Vermont public official. His thoughtful, provocative observations are his alone and do not necessarily represent the opinions of this publication.)
By Tom Evslin
Maybe crippling the US Postal Service is a diabolical plot by Trump to prevent ballots for his opponents from counting; maybe discrediting mailed in ballots is his plan B for claiming fraud if he loses the election in the electoral college. I don’t know if either is true (and neither does The Washington Post); but we can’t afford to wait to find out. We must Trump-proof the election. We must make sure that the results have clearly and cleanly been received at polling places, preferably by election day but, if necessary, a day or two after.
Same is true if your conspiracy theories are seen from a right-wing PoV. Maybe the Democrats are getting ready, should they lose, to blame the loss on interference with the Postal Service and start a new impeachment circus even before Trump’s second inauguration. Maybe the postal unions see an opportunity to delay long-needed reforms to the Postal Service and are willing to hold the election hostage to keep underutilized postal facilities in operation.
Maybe Trump and everyone else are all getting ready to use a manufactured postal crisis to delegitimize the election. We can assure that doesn’t happen by reducing dependence on the Postal Service.
It would be great if people who usually vote in person can vote in person on election day in November. But we can’t count on that. There could be a huge resurgence of Covid in the Fall; that cannot be allowed to interfere with the election. The most vulnerable among us can be pretty sure we won’t be voting in person; but all of us should plan as if we won’t be going to the polling place on election day.
We must NOT all plan to drop a ballot in the mail in the week before election day. Here’s what we can and should do instead.
- Get absentee ballots as soon as you possible can in your state. In some states you’ll get them automatically (which does create its own problems). We don’t want outgoing absentee ballots to be part of a postal crisis.
- If you are voting in advance, drop off your ballot yourself. In Vermont that can be done at town halls. I googled “where can ballots be dropped off” – this link does that for you – and got useful information for many states. Keep your ballot out of the mail.
- If you can’t drop off your ballot and aren’t positive you’ll be able to vote on election day, trade off waiting for all the information you’d like to have for making sure your ballot counts. Mail it at least two weeks early and help spread out the load on the Postal Service.
- Encourage your local officials to set up drive-thru ballot drop off locations for use on election day. At least 18 Vermont towns did that successfully on primary day. These locations are an extremely low risk way to vote on election day and they keep your ballot out of the mail.
- Don’t mail anything but ballots in the two weeks before election day. Pay your bills early or late. Let’s make sure the Postal Service isn’t overburdened.
- Don’t order anything from Amazon which might be delivered by the USPS in the two weeks before election. Jeff Bezos can wait and we don’t want anything getting in the way of ballot delivery.
- If you’re not highly at risk for Covid, volunteer to be a poll-watcher and or ballot-counter. Many of the elderly who usually do this for us are too much at risk. We the people need to be present to assure a fair election.
Note: Mail-in ballots won’t be an issue in Vermont. Primary voting set a record because of mail-ins and results haven’t been unduly delayed. Moreover, Trump won’t get Vermont’s mighty three electoral votes even if Joe Biden spends between now and election day with his foot in his mouth and Kamala Harris confesses to being a secret agent for ICE.
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