You may have seen those T-shirts that say “Vote like your life depends on it.” Well, perhaps you aren’t in the habit of listening to articles of clothing and have been ignoring what your underwear has been telling you for years. But this is one T-shirt slogan that you may want to heed this year in more ways than one.
To say that the 2020 Presidential and Congressional elections are kind of important would be like saying that avocado toast is kind of yummy. Whom you vote for could determine what may happen to the U.S. for a very, very long time. But how specifically you do your voting could affect your and other people’s lives as well. After all, in case you haven’t read the news since 2019, there’s this thing called the Covid-19 coronavirus that’s still spreading widely in the U.S. and has already caused over 225,000 deaths in this country, which leads the World by far. And here’s more great news: transmission of the virus seems to be picking up as we head into the colder, less humid months. So voting, if not done properly, could lead to even more infections and suffering and hospitalizations and deaths.
The Election Season has already started and should culminate sometime after November 3, which besides being National Sandwich Day is also the U.S.’s official election day. This day is rapidly approaching and less than one Scaramucci away, meaning less than 10 days away. So before you line up your sough dough bread supply, make sure that you have a plan on how to vote as well. Because missing your chance to vote is not like forgetting to put fig spread on your sandwich. It won’t leave you with any do overs. And you may end up not having a say in any issues that are important to you.
When it comes to voting, have a clear plan as soon as possible. Voting is quite different from ordering a pizza, having a one night stand, or bedazzling yourself or some unusual combination of these. Don’t wait until you feel the urge to do it. While you can recover from a bad bedazzling mistake, missing the voting deadline or exposing yourself to the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV2) because you are rushing is not as easy to overcome. Remember there shouldn’t be any “rushing” influence on this year’s voting in the U.S. Therefore, plan in advance how, when, and where you are going to vote.
First you’ve got to choose how exactly you will cast your ballot. Search the USA,gov website for your state or territory to determine the options that you have available. If you don’t know where you are located, ask your smartphone. When selecting how to vote, don’t choose the most challenging option. Doing so would be completely misinterpreting the standard career advice that you should always “challenge yourself.” Instead, follow what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website recommends: “consider voting alternatives available in your jurisdiction that minimize contact.”
Voting by Mail
From an infection risk standpoint, by far the safest option is to vote by mail. Unless you’ll be asking someone to lick your stamps for you, mailing in your ballot is the easiest way to minimize physical contact with others. It also is probably the quickest way to vote, allowing you to avoid traveling to the polling location and waiting in line.
Just make sure you take standard precautions while dropping off your ballot. Maintain social distancing throughout your trip, staying at least six feet or one Denzel (because Denzel Washington is about six feet tall) from others at all times. Whenever you enter an indoor area that may have other people, wear a face covering. This should be something that covers your nose and mouth and not your eyes. The goal is to keep the virus from leaving and entering your nose and mouth and not look like the Hamburglar. Remember that mailboxes or any type of ballot drop-off box is potentially a high-touch surface. Try not touch or stroke the box for too long, no matter how lonely you may feel during social distancing. Wash your hands as soon as possible after you touch the mailbox. Either lather your hands with soap or rub your hands with hand sanitizer for at least 20 seconds. To get the timing right, start singing the song “Macho Man” from the Village People. Once you get past the part about feeling, touching, and thrilling your body, 20 seconds will have elapsed.
Before selecting the mail-in option, check the mail-in deadlines for your location to make sure that you haven’t already missed them. The USA.gov website can help you find these on your state or territory websites. There’s also a list that Madeleine Carlisle compiled for Time. Missing a deadline may mean that your vote for Kanye West as President of the U.S. may not count.
Voting in Person
If you must vote in-person, then you’ve got some preparing to do. Scope out each of your potential voting locations or polling places as soon as you can. In this case, scope doesn’t mean throw mouthwash all over the polling location. Rather, it means do some research and reconnaissance. Get a sense of the location and its layout, its hours, its safety, and the precautions that you may need to take. Don’t assume that every polling location has its act together. Polling locations can be like a box of chocolates. You may not know what you may get unless you use some tweezers to see what’s inside them and then re-seal it with some fudge. Polling locations may offer very different services. Some, for example, may offer curbside voting, so that you don’t even have to step out of your car or off your tricycle. Choose a location that is not only convenient but also is taking proper infection prevention and control measures.
The guidelines jointly issued by the Brennan Center and the Infectious Diseases Society of American (IDSA) list many of the measures that polling locations should be taking. These include making sure that a voting location is well-ventilated and relatively spacious with a layout that allow for appropriate social distancing. It shouldn’t be a place where the chances of encountering a person infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus may be higher, such as health care settings. Therefore, senior care facilities, mosh pits, or places that serve both functions simultaneously aren’t great candidates. Outdoor locations typically have more ventilation and thus tend to be safer than indoor locations that don’t happen to do wind tunnel testing for NASA.
Having the right type of facility is not enough. The joint guidelines recommend a range of modifications that polling locations can make. One is erecting plexiglass barriers between voters and poll workers. Of course, unless the plexiglass extends all the way to the ceiling, it’s not going to completely block possible aerosol transmission of the virus. Nevertheless, a plexiglass barrier could block any larger respiratory droplets or hot dog fragments that come out of a person’s mouth. Another modification is using tape or other semi-permanent markers (i.e., something other than pieces of baloney) on the ground or floor to clearly show where people should stand so that they are always at least one Denzel apart. The instructions should be clear and not make the floor look like a Kandinsky painting.
Polling places should have good air filtration systems in place as well as sanitation protocols ensuring that every high touch surface is disinfected at least every four hours. such as door handles, voting booths, voting equipment, bathroom faucets, sinks, and any picture of BTS are disinfected at least every four hours.
Hand sanitizer, hand wipes, or other hand cleaning options should be readily available. If they aren’t, consider doing jazz hands until someone brings you such options. And yes, spirit fingers can serve as a substitute for jazz hands. There should be enough hand sanitizer available to use liberal amounts. In this case, liberal means “more than enough without being excessive” and is not a partisan designation. If there isn’t enough hand sanitizer, resume doing Jazz hands and tilt your head to the side while wearing a pained expression until more comes along.
Additionally, the guidelines urge polling places to make things as disposable as possible. This doesn’t mean that you should try to throw away everything in the polling place such as doors, tables, and toilets after using them. Doing so may land you in jail. But cheaper items such as pens and pencils should not be reusable. Consider any reusable pen to be, in the words of Nelly Furtado, promiscuous.
Moreover, voting stations should allow you to use disposable devices such as cotton swabs, finger covers, drumsticks (the musical instrument kind and not the food items) or magical wands made out of toilet paper rather than your fingers or other body parts to make your selections. Note that using your forehead to register your vote is a bad idea even when there isn’t a pandemic.
Of course, poll workers should practice good infection prevention and control measures as well. This includes wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks, gloves, and potentially face shields. They should remain at least Denzel apart from everyone at all times and clean their hands thoroughly and frequently.
The CDC also offers six steps to follow as soon as possible well before you vote:
- Check that you are registered to vote. You can’t just show up at an America’s Got Talent show and expect you and your seven alpacas to perform. Similarly, you’ve got to register to vote before actually voting. Doing so in advance will help minimize hassles and the time that you spend at the polling location.
- Check how you can vote. Again options may vary by location.
- Check when and where you can vote. Don’t just assume that you can go to same place where you’ve always gone. If you haven’t figured it out yet, 2020 is not like 2016, 2012, or 2008. The Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic and all of the dumpster fire-like events that have occurred recently may have changed where you can vote and when.
- Plan how you can get to your place to vote in the safest way possible. You know the saying, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to get into a fight with someone who is panting all over you and claiming the right to pant.” Figure where people will line up to vote and aim to join the shortest line possible.
- Plan for someone to take care of your loved ones. If possible, avoid bringing other people with you, whether its your children, your entourage, or those mimes that follow you everywhere you go. This is not the red carpet at the Oscars. Enlist help to take care of those at home. Minimize who may be exposed to the voting locations.
- Be prepared so you can limit the time you are in your voting place. Treat voting like meeting up with an ex to get back your stuff. Fill out all forms in advance, spend as little time there as possible, and nod affirmatively and use the word “cool” as often as you can.
Additionally, consider voting as early as possible to avoid the crowds, rush, and lines. As this CBS New York news report showed, many are choosing to do so:
Choose a location and a time when lines may be shorter. The mid-afternoon on a weekday may be a good time if you can manage to get out of work or put something over your pajama pants between Zoom meetings.
The CDC also provides six steps to follow on the day that you are going to a polling location:
- People who are sick can follow CDC advice for when to be around others. In this case, “sick” doesn’t mean exceptionally cool as in “that’s sick.” If you are feeling ill, for Pete’s and everyone else’s sake, do not go to the polling location. Don’t be one of those people who starts at outbreak. Instead, look for alternatives.
- Bring your own supplies. The CDC recommends that you bring documentation that you are actually you. It should be official identification and not a Justice League membership card. Also, bring a mask, an extra mask, and some tissues, so that you can cry at the state of our country and wipe your hands and face as needed. Don’t assume that hand sanitizer will be available at the polling location, so bring your own. Make sure that the sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol to e effective at killing the virus. Note that something that is 100% alcohol is no longer really considered hand sanitizer. Other items to bring are water, a black ink pen, registration forms, sample ballots, and any information needed to help you make your choices.
- Wear a mask. Just wear it. If you want to exercise your freedoms, wait until you get home and cover your body with pastrami.
- Protect yourself when using transport to and from the voting location. Avoid touching high-touch surfaces. Minimize contact with others. Open windows to increase air circulation if you can. Don’t try to do this if you are riding on a commercial airplane though.
- Clean your hands often. Do this every time you touch something that may have been touched by others. Heed the words of The Georgia Satellites, and keep your hands to yourself. Resist your temptation to clean other things and people. Covering a stranger with hand sanitizer could start a fight. And don’t wipe down any voting equipment unless someone official tells you to so. In this case, official means someone who works at the polling location and not someone dressed in a referee’s uniform.
- Keep your distance from others. Again that means remaining at least one Denzel apart from everyone, which is roughly equivalent to one Matthew McConaughey as well. Alright, alright, alright.
Voting is among the most important things that you can do as an American. It is the one thing that you can do to hold the President of the U.S. and other politicians accountable. Otherwise, they may not really care what you think or want. Take a close look at the candidates that you can choose from and get to know what they’ve really done in recent years. Overlook superficial appearance and empty promises. This is the election and not the X Factor or some reality TV show. See what the candidates have really done and whether they are actually on your side. Even if you are disgusted by politicians in general, don’t sit this one out because you are trying to make a statement or are too busy slamming your shoe on your forehead. No one will really listen to you boycotting the vote. Your vote does matter. If you don’t vote, you will probably end up getting what you deserve. And not everyone will end up liking what they deserve.
Source: Forbes – Money