Pandemic vs. Patriotism: How to Cast Your Ballot and Preserve Your Health

Pandemic vs. Patriotism: How to Cast Your Ballot and Preserve Your Health

by September 18, 2020

Mildred Robertson

Voting in the 2020 Presidential election may be the most consequential ballot you cast in your lifetime. As we approach Election Day, America faces a global pandemic that threatens the voting process; a process which lately includes long lines and excessive wait times. The fear of Covid-19 may cause some voters to question the rationality of exposing themselves to the crowds normally encountered during a presidential election. The duty to vote in this election may be a challenging one. Still, it is a challenge we must face. The cost of low voter turnout is not one America can afford to pay. We face numerous challenges whose ultimate solution can only be resolved through the ballot box.

In addition to the poorly managed response to a global pandemic and the resultant rampant unemployment, America must also face a wave of national protests against racism and police brutality. We are also challenged by the divisive rhetoric of a failed administration that sows seeds of doubt about the efficacy of our government and promotes racial animus and cross-cultural distrust. It is imperative that diverse voices across this nation speak as one; and together articulate this nation’s direction. This can only be achieved by a robust voter turnout from all segments of our society.

But there are challenges. On the one hand, voters must navigate new processes to address the risks associated with voting in an uncontrolled viral outbreak. On the other, new election processes must be weighed against the intent of foreign adversaries to tamper with the 2020 election as they did in 2016. The current administration seems intent on depressing voter turnout and has gone so far as to call for the 2020 election to be postponed. Although this position is constitutionally unfounded, this type of rhetoric contributes to the unease and distrust that many Americans harbor as we approach the November 3rd. Presidential Election.

While the challenges are real, states across the nation have risen to the challenge as they promote absentee voting. This is a safe, proven method to ensure every citizen is provided the opportunity to participate in the election process.

In North Carolina any qualified voter can request his or her absentee ballot from the Board of Elections. No special circumstances are needed to receive a mail-in absentee ballot. The ballot can be requested by the voter, or a close relative or legal guardian for those needing assistance.

For those who do not have a relative or legal guardian available to assist, there is a group called the multipartisan assistance team (MAT) who can help. This may be relevant for those who are sick or in nursing homes who cannot obtain a ballot and vote without assistance.

The deadline to request an absentee ballot for the November 3, 2020 election is 5 p.m. on Tuesday, October 27, 2020. However, you might wish to request your absentee ballot now in order to ensure that you receive and have time to submit it by the November 3rd deadline. You may download an application for an absentee ballot at the State Board of Elections website (, by visiting your county board of elections, or by calling your county board of elections and asking them to mail you one. After completing the request form, you may return it to your county board of elections by fax, email, mail, or in person. The key is to request your absentee ballot now!

County boards of elections will begin sending out absentee ballots to people who have requested them after September 4th. When you get your ballots in the mail, there are various instructions that you must follow to return your ballot in the return envelope provided to you. You can find additional information about this return process, including the requirement for having a witness verify that you are the one returning the ballot at the State Board of Elections website ( .

You can return your completed absentee ballot in its completed envelope by (1) mailing it directly to your county board of elections, (2) taking it to an Early Voting site when they are open from October 15th through October 31st, or (3) taking it directly to your county board of elections no later than 5:00 p.m. on Election Day, November 3rd. There are important rules concerning who may assist individuals in obtaining and returning absentee ballots. Scores of thousands of North Carolinians have already requested absentee ballots, so you should not let this sometime awkward process stand between you and your right to cast a safe ballot during this pandemic.

Regardless of the rhetoric coming from Washington D.C., it is possible to have a safe, secure, representative election. Don’t let the pandemic or partisan tactics keep you from your patriotic duty. Whether you plan to exercise your right to cast a ballot at an early voting site, by absentee ballot, or in person voting on November 3, 2020, make sure your voice is heard. Vote in the 2020 Presidential election.

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