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Anxious. Excited. Stressed. Hopeful. Determined. These are just a few of the words our readers used to describe how they’re feeling about voting in the 2020 election.
In September, we asked our readers to share their Election Day plans with us. With just seven days until November 3, here’s a look at what we learned from the 335 responses we received from voters from across the country.
There are three ways to vote: by mail (also known as absentee voting), early or in-person on Election Day. Not surprisingly, the majority of respondents said they planned to vote by mail this year simply because “it is the safest option.” Ninety-two percent of readers said they were casting mail-in ballots or voting early; just 6 percent of readers said they planned to vote on Election Day.
As The 19th’s Barbara Rodriguez explains, the number of people voting by mail this year is expected to be much larger compared to previous years because of the coronavirus pandemic. According to The New York Times, at least 66.4 million Americans had already voted in the general election as of October 27. That’s about 48 percent of the total votes counted in the 2016 election.
‘I want to stay healthy and safe’
Lisa Rice, 56, of Washington, D.C., is one of 188 readers who planned on casting a mail-in ballot this year.
“I want to stay healthy and safe, and I want that for everyone else,” she said. “I want people to get out and vote like their life depends on it, because it does.”
In response to the pandemic, the D.C. Board of Elections launched the Vote Safe DC campaign “to ensure that every vote is counted and that everyone, from voters to election workers, is safe.” The Board mailed a ballot to every registered voter living in the U.S. capital.
“Voting early here in Washington, D.C, was extremely easy,” Rice said. “Once a ballot drop box was installed in our neighborhood, we walked over and dropped in our completed ballots and … done!”
The D.C. board lists 55 mail-in-ballot drop off locations on its website. As of October 27, more than 96,000 ballots had been received through those drop boxes; more than 49,000 had been mailed through the U.S. Postal Service.
As The 19th’s Rodriguez explains, “states have different rules around when its election officials can begin processing mailed ballots. The ability to process mailed ballots ahead of Election Day allows for quicker results when in-person polls close.”
‘I am deeply concerned about what the current administration will do with mail-in ballots’
Like Rice, Alma Aldrich, 32, is also taking her safety seriously this election season.
Aldrich, who is pregnant, is due to give birth just six days after Election Day. Aldrich and her husband voted early in Austin, Texas, on October 15 — two days after the state’s early voting period began. The couple felt they would have a “shorter and safer” experience if they waited for the “first day enthusiasm to wear off.”
She followed up with The 19th just hours after voting: “[We] waited maybe 30 minutes total,” she said. “[It was] a very smooth process and everyone respected COVID best practices.”
Aldrich also echoed a common concern among 19th readers who said they preferred to vote in-person.
“I feel like the election has immense consequences for the next generation,” she said. “I am deeply concerned about what the current administration will do with mail-in ballots.”
Months before early voting began across the nation, President Donald Trump took to Twitter, claiming there’s “NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent.”
Out of the 335 people who responded to our callout, only 21 said they would be voting in person on Election Day, including 22-year-old Nataly Lado of East Elmhurst, New York. This year will be her second time voting in a presidential election. She was a freshman in college the first time she voted back in 2016.
“The allure of voting that day felt so exciting,” Lado said. “Though times have certainly changed … I still want to go in person and vote at my local voting site. In fact, I signed up to be a poll worker. As the saying goes, ‘Duty calls.’ My duty as a citizen of this country is surely calling.”
According to a recent poll, most New York state residents, like Lado, plan to vote in person on Election Day. And due to the expected unprecedented voter turnout, Americans voting on November 3 can expect long lines and extended wait times.
Voting experts are also encouraging people to accept the possibility of not knowing which candidate wins the presidential election until days or weeks after the election.
‘If I can protect even one high-risk person, I’m going to do it’
Although they will be exercising their right to vote differently, Lado and Bailey Steinhauser of San Marcos, Texas, are both a part of the wave of young women who are volunteering as poll workers this year.
Steinhauser, 28, said she volunteered to help fill positions historically done by older poll workers who are now at a higher risk for COVID-19.
“I’m nervous, for sure,” she said. “My grandpa died of COVID this year and most of my family was positive over the summer. It definitely isn’t a decision I took lightly, but if I can protect even one high-risk person, I’m going to do it.”
Steinhauser and her husband voted early and in person on October 26 because they are “lucky enough to work in flexible jobs that allow for this.”
As we continue our coverage of the upcoming election, we want to keep hearing your stories. Share your Election Day plans and pictures with us on social media using #19thVotes2020. Don’t forget to tag us @19thnews.
Read all of our Election 2020 coverage here.
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