• 14 August, 2020 8:47 am


The ballot that never came

Kathmandu, August 14: A little over two weeks before New York City’s primary elections in June, I emailed my absentee ballot application to the Board of Elections, as instructed on its official website. Like most people, I wanted to avoid in-person voting during a pandemic. Several days before the primaries, I realized I hadn’t received my ballot in the mail. When Election Day arrived, it was still nowhere to be found.

(It turns out this was a not-uncommon occurrence among my fellow New Yorkers.) I’m young, healthy and lucky enough to work from home, so I masked up, made sure I had hand sanitizer and biked over to my polling place around lunchtime to cast my vote.

Based on my own experience and the observations of my colleague Jamelle Bouie earlier this week, it seems like the best strategy for making my vote count in November is to vote in person again. As Jamelle points out, President Trump has been unabashed in his attempts to delegitimize the vote-by-mail process, weakening the United States Postal Service through cuts and increased postage rates for ballots mailed to voters. And in all likelihood, Trump will try to claim victory before the final votes are tallied, should he be in the lead on election night.

Continue reading the main story ADVERTISEMENT Trump and the Republican Party fear vote-by-mail because polls have shown that a disproportionate number of those who prefer it are Joe Biden supporters. (A recent analysis by one of my colleagues in Times Opinion, however, found that even if everyone had voted by mail in 2016, it wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the election.) In recent years, poor and low-income voters — who face deliberately constructed obstacles to in-person voting even in the best of times — have shown increased turnout for Democratic candidates in traditionally red states such as Kentucky, where Andy Beshear defeated the Republican incumbent Matt Bevin for governor last year.

In an Op-Ed, William Barber II and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove of the Poor People’s Campaign discussed the need for Southern Democrats to learn from Beshear’s strategy of engaging those voters in order to win big this fall. Hopefully that turnout materializes in November, and those who are willing and able to risk voting in person do. In an ideal world, voting-by-mail would be almost as easy as sending a text. But my confidence in our government to figure out how to make that happen is very low. My absentee ballot did eventually turn up in my mailbox — the day after the primary. My partner’s arrived a full week later. Continue reading the main story

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