This year, Halloween (October 31) and Election Day (Tuesday, November 3rd) are only three days apart, and in this time of pandemic and economic uncertainty it’s understandable that we all may be feeling a little skittish and anxious about now. The weather is setting the mood; it’s getting dark earlier and staying that way later in the morning. There’s a chill in the air, and the wind is setting the leaves aswirl.
There are so many questions about what we should or shouldn’t be doing. Will the kids be safe ‘trick or treating?’—with or without their masks? And voting: should you go to the polls, vote by mail or hit the early voting station? How long will it take? Will it be safe? It would be nice if someone would reassure us that everything will be okay, but instead, like in a haunted house, our fears get stoked by misinformation and alarmism. And then it’s made worse by the viral nature of social media.
I read an example of this in the recent Consumer Reports Magazine:
“In late September, a photo of a dumpster full of light-blue envelopes started spreading on Twitter. The post made the explosive claim that the discarded envelopes contained more than a thousand unopened ballots—proof, the claim went, of heavy tampering in the upcoming presidential election.
“The real story of the dumpster, located in Petaluma, Calif., was quite different. Those blue slips were simply empty envelopes left over from the 2018 election. But by the time county officials stepped in to correct the record, photos of the dumpster had gone viral and made their way onto a popular far-right website.
“The volume and frequency of misinformation has accelerated significantly” from the 2016 and 2018 election cycles, says Jesse Littlewood, vice president for campaigns at Common Cause, a voter-rights advocacy group that tracks election misinformation. “We’re concerned with content that impacts people’s faith in the legitimacy of our system or somehow implies that some methods of voting are less secure then others—when there is no evidence that’s true.”
It is important in the face of uncertainty that we remember that our election systems have been stable and reliable for many decades and that our voting officials are professionals who pride themselves in holding successful elections year after year.
Yes, this time may be a little harder, because of the corona virus and because this year, despite attempts to scare them away, the voters seem more determined than ever to cast their ballot. Already there are record numbers casting early and mail-in ballots. And yes, there may well be lines at the polls on Election Day—a good sign that this year we may be able to point with pride to a high voter turnout that makes all the money and effort that goes into holding an election worthwhile.
So arm yourself with the facts—find out your registration status, where you vote and options for early voting at indianavoters.in.gov or, if you don’t want to use the internet call the Allen County Election Board, Monday through Friday 8AM to 4:30 PM at 260-449-7329—put on your mask, and go vote. You’ll be glad you did.