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Absentee vote or not, just vote
Patty Leon new

Before you know it Nov. 3, will be here. 

Election Day! 

And if you waited until then to vote, you best grab your favorite beach chair and beverage and be ready to wait in line for HOURS!

There are voting options depending in what state you are registered to vote in, so be prepared to do some research. I learned something extremely important this past week. In Georgia, you can request an absentee ballot and you have options to either mail it in or drop it off at designated poll locations during early voting and on Nov. 3.

I assumed this was the case in all 50 states.

It is NOT! (This is why you should never ASSume anything).

For example, I learned that in Tennessee the ONLY way you can return an absentee ballot, by law, is to mail it in using either the United States Postal Service, FedEx, or UPS. There are no drop boxes at all. In other states absentee ballot drop boxes are popping up all over the place making voting more accessible during the pandemic. The deadlines to have your absentee ballots mailed in may differ from state to state as well.

In some states, first time voters are not allowed to vote by absentee ballot at all. In these states first time voters must vote in-person to present a valid form of identification. In other states first time voters may request an absentee ballot but only after going to their local Board of Elections Office to present their ID and request the absentee ballot in-person.

More than likely, half of the U.S. population will opt to vote by absentee ballot this year due to the COVID pandemic. Absentee voting has been done for years and provides a valuable service to folks in the military, disabled Americans and the elderly unable to vote in person. 

Hey if it’s good enough for President Trump (who already requested his absentee ballot by mail) then it is good enough for the rest of us Americans. So please stop it with the stupid anti-absentee voting memes.

Now here’s the thing. If you are going to vote by absentee ballot DO IT NOW. 

Don’t wait until a day before the election to request your ballot and expect your stuff to arrive on time and be counted. Not going to happen. Not going to count.

Also, once you get your absentee ballot fill it out PROPERLY and send it back as soon as possible so it meets required deadlines to be tabulated. In other words, if you know you are a huge PROCRASTINATOR, absentee ballots may not be your thing.

It’s no secret that the USPS is undergoing various changes under Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. Whether you think the removal of thousands of sorting machines and mailboxes and cuts in overtime are part of the plan to sabotage the upcoming elections…or that DeJoy is simply doing his job in trying to fix a broken USPS…WHO CARES AT THIS POINT.

What’s done is done and he already told Congress he is going to halt further changes but not restore equipment or mailboxes already removed. 

Has mail delivery slowed in your area? If so and you plan to vote by absentee ballot, then get a move on and get it done now. If you can use UPS or FedEx, then those are other viable ways to get you absentee ballot in on time. But you still must act now.

Something else that varies from state to state are the dates for in-person early voting. In Georgia early voting starts Oct. 12. In Tennessee early voting is from Oct. 14 until Oct. 29.

I urge folks to utilize the early voting period. If you’ve been the person running errands for your family, meaning going to the store or bank or getting takeout. And have done so while wearing a mask, practice social distancing and washing your hands often after touching surfaces, then VOTE IN PERSON. This guarantees your voice is heard and you don’t have to worry about the troubles at the USPS.

Early voting is going to be your best option. It gives people time to get to the polls during a two- or three-week span instead of lining up like a herd of cows come Nov. 3. You’re less likely to encounter long lines and larger crowds if you do early voting.

If you happen to fall into the final category of waiting to vote on Nov. 3, don’t complain about the long lines and wait. Don’t take it out on the poll workers either, it was your choice to wait not theirs. Take a chair and a good book and wait your turn.

Patty Leon

Senior Editor

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