Ted Glick's Blog

Voting in Person or by Mail?

By Ted Glick

I finally signed up for and yesterday started making calls to battleground states to help build the vote for Biden and other non-Republicans. I did so through the group Indivisible.

I spent a couple of hours making calls to Michigan. Many of the people I spoke to were African American. My best conversation was with a woman who explained to me her decision to vote in person, not by mail. She gave me some things to think about.

This woman, Lavonda, explained that she has been a dedicated voter for her whole life, a believer in its importance. She told me in no uncertain terms what she thought about President Chaos, who she called Orange Man. And she said to me that she will be voting in person despite the pandemic for two reasons: because she wants to be absolutely sure her vote is counted, and because of concern that Trump will use a possible temporary lead based on election day voting, before all the mailed-in votes are counted, to declare himself the winter.

If it turns out that the results reported as of the morning of November 4 are inconclusive or, God forbid, showing Trump in the lead, it is virtually certain that President Chaos will declare himself the winner. Though he will not be, since there are going to be many more uncounted, mailed-in votes than usual because of the pandemic, his doing so will be a big problem.

That is why it is a good thing that many groups are already making plans to hit the streets in massive numbers post-November 3 as necessary to defend democracy. Every person who believes in democracy should be ready to join in a millions-persons-around-the-country march to save democracy, those who’ve been to too many demonstrations to count and those who’ve never been to one. This preparation and these actions, if needed, are absolutely essential.

But shouldn’t we all consider Lavonda’s arguments for in-person voting? I say yes.

I happened to see an article on Facebook last evening about just this issue. The author was someone who had analyzed risks of getting COVID-19 from various types of actions. His assessment was that the risk of getting the virus from in-person voting on election day, or during early voting in states where that is used, is similar to the risk when going shopping for food at a supermarket. That risk is low, if wearing a face mask, social distancing, possibly wearing rubber gloves and washing hands after returning home.

The fact is that Trump is urging on his supporters to vote in person, even though he’s a long-time absentee mail voter. There is a valid argument to be made that, because of this, many of us who will be voting for Biden should consciously decide to vote in person rather than by mail.

Risk-taking is part of life. It’s for sure part of organizing for social change, or against rising neo-fascism.

Ultimately, we each need to make personal decisions about what is best. Bottom line: all out to defeat Trump, whatever way we vote, and to take massive action to defend democracy post-election day.

Ted Glick is the author of the forthcoming Burglar for Peace: Lessons Learned in Catholic Left Resistance to the Vietnam War. Past writings and other information can be found at https://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jtglick.

Burglar for Peace: Lessons Learned in the Catholic Left’s Resistance to the Vietnam War