Don’t Let COVID-19 Concerns Stop You From Voting
Without a doubt, COVID-19 has changed how we live our lives. We’re working remotely from home, our children are learning through virtual classes and we’re using video conferencing as a way to stay in touch with family and friends.
Those changes show we didn’t let COVID-19 stop us from doing what’s important. We just found a way to do them safely. The same is true for the Nov. 3 election. You can make sure your voice is heard and still be safe.
The rhetoric in the bitter presidential race has left some people discouraged, wondering if voting even matters. It does. Our country is at a crossroads, where whoever wins the presidential race will impact the direction for much more than a four-year term.
But this election is about more than the presidential race. Make sure you know where your candidates stand on important issues like the economy and health care. For example, the Affordable Care Act provides access to quality health care to those with pre-existing conditions and covers cancer screenings and other preventive tests at no additional cost for more than 1.9 million Floridians. It also provides reduced prescription drug costs for Medicare Part D members.
This election is also about choosing sheriffs who keep our communities safe, commissioners who make decisions on what we’ll pay in taxes and how that money is spent in our counties, and school board members who help decide the quality of education our children receive.
Now that you know the stakes, here are ways you can stay safe while voting.
Voting by mail
This is a good option if you’re concerned about voting in person because you have a high-risk medical condition, if you’re a caregiver for someone who does or if you’re not comfortable being in public settings.
You must request a ballot by 5 p.m. Oct. 24. Return your completed ballot as soon as possible and check with your county’s Supervisor of Elections Office to make sure it has been received and accepted. In addition to mailing your ballot, you can put it in a secure drop box at the main and branch offices for your elections supervisor and at early voting sites. The ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day.
Each county is required to offer early voting for at least eight days before the election, but officials can add more days. Check with your county’s Supervisor of Elections Office for dates, times and locations.
The benefits of voting early include smaller crowds, shorter lines and being able to vote on weekends. As with any time you’re in public, make sure you wear a mask, practice social distancing and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer if you touch a shared surface.
Voting on Election Day
This is typically when you’ll see the largest crowds and longest lines. But you can still be safe by following the rules we’ve been living by for months: wear a mask, stay at least six feet away from others and use hand sanitizer or wash your hands after touching any shared surface.
Try to avoid the busiest times of the day, like before and after work and during lunch. And it’s best to not bring your children or other people who aren’t voting with you to the polls to keep them from being exposed to COVID-19. Many companies, including Florida Blue, have flexible policies to make sure their employees have time to vote.
Voting During a Pandemic
While COVID-19 is an experience we’ve never encountered before, this isn’t the first time the country has had an election during a pandemic. In 1918, the Spanish flu spread across the United States, peaking in the weeks before the November election. There wasn’t a presidential election that year, but important topics for that time, like alcohol prohibition, were on the ballot in several states.
Voters were encouraged then to follow the same precautions we are using today: wear a mask, keep a safe distance between each other and to “exercise all sanitary precautions.”
Our country did it then and we can do it now. Stay safe and make your voice heard.
Filed under: Community