Voting Through a Pandemic

The ins and outs of voting in the 2020 election


Image created by Anna Keigher

Ways to vote in the 2020 election

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, voting for the 2020 election is going to look a little different. There are several options for voting this election: ballot drop-off boxes, mail-in voting and early voting. No matter which way community members choose to vote, the most important part is that each ballot is counted.

Donald Trump has been dismantling the United States Postal Service, therefore slowing it down, for years, according to The New York Times. The dire need for mail-in voting due to Coronavirus restrictions will be affected by the dismantling of the USPS. 

To account for the slow moving USPS, the Cook County Clerk’s office is offering secure mail ballot drop boxes at several locations throughout Cook County, However, voters may send in their ballot via the USPS if they choose to do so.

According to the Cook County Clerk’s office, the last day to request a mail-in ballot is Oct. 29 and the last day ballots can be postmarked is Nov. 11. Once the ballot is cast, each voter can drop it in one of the several ballot drop off locations in Cook County.

For voters who would prefer to cast their ballot in person, there are early voting locations that are going to be conscious of social distancing and sanitization as well. There is also, as usual, an option to vote on Election Day. Regardless of the voting method chosen, getting each vote in on time is so crucial in this election, especially with the mail-in ballots.

With the recent passing of US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the tense racial and political climate and the COVID-19 pandemic still wreaking havoc on the US, the 2020 election results  will bring great change no matter which candidate wins. 

“Elected representatives speak for us on local matters such as school district policies and quality of life in our communities,” Vice President of the H-F League of Women Voters, Sandra Slayton said. “On a State or national level, elected officials decide such matters as taxation, trade policy, foreign policy, Supreme Court justice appointments, declaration of war, gun laws, healthcare, immigration, Social Security, racial and gender equality, environmental issues and a myriad of other important issues that impact our lives directly.”

According to Slayton, those who may feel helpless in fighting for change, voting is the one saving grace every citizen is granted when they turn 18.

“If you don’t like the way things are but you don’t vote to try and make a change, then blame yourself, not the government,” said Slayton. “If you don’t vote, someone else will and they’ll make the decision for you.”

During the 2016 election, though Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, Trump won the election due to the electoral votes he received. Though this may cause voters to feel that their vote does not actually matter, civics teacher Bob St. Leger argues that in an election, anything can happen and every vote is important.

“That is definitely a valid argument, especially in Illinois because a democrat candidate is likely to win no matter what.  But….your vote does matter!” St. Leger said.  “Elections are close and if people have that attitude and do not vote, it absolutely can impact the outcome of the election.  Take Michigan for example, in 2016 Trump got about 10,000 more votes than Clinton and that came down to about only 2 more votes per precinct.”

As important as voting is, no one is able to vote unless they are a registered voter in the state in which they live. After registering to vote, “pay attention to the candidates and not just the high profile candidates (like presidential).  Find out information about some of the local candidates running for office,” St. Leger said. “Finally, research both sides so you can make the most informed decision.  Don’t just vote for who you think you are ‘supposed to.’  Vote for who you think is truly the best candidate.”

In the 2020 election, voters are not just electing a president, but “We will also be voting for other policy makers such as State and Congressional legislators, and in Illinois an amendment to the constitution related to taxation,” said Slayton.

At the end of the day, the best part of voting, according to Slayton, is simply because it is possible and gives power to the people.

“Vote because you live in a democracy and can vote. This is not true in every country,” said Slayton. “Voting elevates you from just having an opinion to legally expressing that opinion in the form of a vote. Vote because it gives you credibility as an American citizen. Vote to hold elected officials accountable. Your vote is your voice. Use it.”