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It Really Is OK to Vote in Person

Since March…

How many times have you been to the grocery store?

How many times have you been to Home Depot or Lowes?

How many times have you been to the post office?

How many times have you been out to eat or to a bar?

How many times have you been to a sporting event?

How many times have you been to the liquor store?

How many times have you been to the barber or hair stylist?

How many times have you been to Costco or Sam’s Club?

How many times have you been to the gym?

How many times have you been to a medical or dental office?

How many times have you used a taxicab or rideshare?

How many times have you been to a protest gathering, peaceful or not?

How many times have you been to a house of worship?

How many times have you traveled by plane or train?

How many times have you been on a bus or subway?

Before you answer, let’s consider some other issues which continue to work their way into the national discourse.

At this point, it is fair to say that both national parties have claimed, suggested, argued and/or worried about the integrity of the upcoming elections.  This angst appears to be based on the vulnerability (or not, depending on who you ask) of voting by mail, either by absentee ballot or as the main way of casting one’s vote as is the case in some states.  President Trump’s position on mail in voting seems to evolve on a weekly basis, because he has voted by absentee ballot this election cycle.  This apparent inconsistency has required Trump to modify his language to some degree, touting the integrity of absentee voting where the voter has to request the ballot as opposed to mailing a ballot, unsolicited, to every registered voter.

Some in the GOP are worried that Trump’s rhetoric on mail in voting will hurt his re-election chances. An article in yesterday’s New York Times points out that Republicans have historically been very proactive at turning out the absentee vote, but suggests that Trump has hindered those efforts in the run up to the November election.

With the politics of voting by mail as opposed to voting in person in mind, let’s remind ourselves about how to stay safe in public.

The U.S. Surgeon General remains consistent with the now very familiar steps to avoid COVID and to minimize the spread of the virus.

The CDC has been less consistent, especially regarding face coverings, but their current guidance is similar.

Look again at the list of questions above.  If you have engaged in any of those activities at least once, you have exposed yourself to at least a low to medium risk of exposure to COVID according to Drs. Emanuel, Phillips and Popescu, who collaborated to create and quantify a user friendly risk index.

Now answer this question: Do I feel safe voting in person or should I vote by mail notwithstanding the risk (real or imagined) of fraud in the process?

In a recent article in the Atlantic no less, the aforementioned Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel said that

In-person voting is no more risky than going to the grocery store, Emanuel argues, as long as certain safeguards are in place, the same measures many Americans have become accustomed to since the spring: Wear a mask and line up at least six feet apart.

As for me and my house, I plan to vote, in person, ID in hand, with a face covering, if necessary.


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