by Stuart Strickland, Precinct #8 Captain, Key West
We can all agree we are living in extraordinary times. Our entire way of life is changing very rapidly. We stay at home. We wear face masks. We social distance. But what about of one of our most fundamental constitutional rights and, I say, duties—the right to VOTE?
We have seen mixed messages from our government leaders so far. In Wisconsin, the governor wanted to postpone the primary recently only to have state legislators go to court where, at the last minute, it was decided that the election would proceed as originally scheduled. In light of the coronavirus, many voters chose to stay home. In Ohio, the governor canceled the primary the night before the polls were scheduled to open, making it impossible for voters to cast their ballots. And in a previous national emergency, after 9/11, New York Governor Pataki closed the polls altogether, even though they had already been open for several hours earlier that day.
We actually already have a simple tool available to us to help secure our right to vote, even in the middle of a global pandemic: vote by mail. If people voted by mail, their right to cast their ballots would not be subject to the whims of legislators and/or courts. Our right to vote would be back in our own hands.
With that said, we can and should be voting by mail. This is not a partisan issue. It affects all political parties alike. Voting by mail is safe, effective, easy, and efficient. A ballot is mailed to your house giving the voter time to read, study, and complete the ballot before mailing it back. This is in contrast to seeing the ballot for the first time at the polls.
In Monroe County, we face a number of challenges that put our right to vote at risk—from our one-way in-and-out access point to the mainland with its over 42 bridges, to our vulnerability to hurricanes, and now the coronavirus. Any of these challenges can impact our ability to vote. Will the polls be open or closed? Will I be able to access my polling place? Voting by mail eliminates these uncertainties. Voting by mail makes sense.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, currently Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and Utah conduct all elections entirely by mail. All registered voters receive a ballot in the mail; however, this does not preclude in-person voting on and/or before Election Day. President Trump voted by mail in New York in 2018 and again in Florida last month. Voting by mail works.
For over two hundred years, women and men have fought and died for our right to vote for the people who govern us on every level. We have a duty to those who fought for us, to our communities, and to our democracy. Don’t miss your chance to cast your ballot. Voting by mail ensures your ballot is cast and counted and your voice is heard.
To request a Vote by Mail Ballot, go to the Supervisor of Elections website—www.keys-elections.org and click on “Vote by Mail.”