August, 21, 2020
by John House
What will the country look like three months from now? Will we be at home with our loved ones and friends peacefully celebrating or, alternatively, reluctantly accepting, the results of a fair and uncontested election? Or will we be marching in the streets in Washington, D.C.,, instead, protesting against election results either tainted with doubt or obviously manipulated, false? Will we have a president who refuses to leave office despite losing the election? Will Washington look like Minsk, the capital of Belarus, weeks ago, with its streets filled with tens of thousands of peaceful protestors demonstrating their just outrage against false election results? Or could Washington more resemble Bamako, the capital of the West African country, Mali, earlier this week, with the streets full of demonstrators joyfully celebrating the resignation, forced by a coup, of its detested, autocratic president? Or will it look more like the streets of Minneapolis, Atlanta, Portland and Seattle multiplied a thousand fold, with demonstrators facing off against squads, or even battalions, of national guard and military soldiers dressed in full battle gear and wielding deadly military weapons?
I hope the nation will be at rest, getting back to normal as much as we will be able to, with the elections behind us. But the fact that I can realistically posit these other, post-election possibilities deeply underscores the fact that the 2020 elections will be like no other in American history. The very foundation of the republic, our system of representative government, is built upon is the right of eligible citizens of the United States to cast their votes and empower the persons they want to represent them in government. But the ground underneath that government has been weakened, unsettled, like after an earthquake, by very real and threatened efforts to make it difficult to vote. The closure of voting places and the reduction of open hours of others and have been announced. The security and reliability of absentee and mail-in voting that has been used by the military as far back as the Revolutionary War and by the citizens in most states since the early 20th century is being discredited. The United States Postal Service has been hobbled by the removal of essential equipment and the lowering of postal worker hours at a time when absentee and mail-in voting has become crucial for persons facing the choice of either endangering their lives to vote in person or not vote at all. As a result of these and other actions by some in power at the federal and state levels, the voting process so much that it has discouraged some from voting because they have cynically concluded that their vote won’t matter.
The answer to the question–what will the country look like after the elections?–depends entirely on us. Each of us. All of us. What we do between now and November 3rd will determine where we will be and what this nation will look like not just in the weeks and months following the elections but for many years to come. It may very well determine if the American democratic experiment will continue or end. This country already has been moved off the solid ground of true representative democracy and has slipped down the slope towards plutocracy and oligarchy. In the presidential election, with an incumbent president who believes that presidential authority is total and has totally disregarded the rule of law, and an attorney general who shares his beliefs and helps him violate our constitutional system of checks and balances almost on a daily basis, it teeters on the brink of falling into the abyss of autocracy.
Make a Voting Plan and Follow It
You can best ensure your own participation in the election process by making and following your own individual voting plan. Here’s how:
- Verify if you are registered to vote by going here. If you are not registered, you can register online by going here.
- Decide whether you will vote absentee by mail or at the ballot box.
- If you decide to vote absentee and haven’t already received a request for an absentee ballot in the mail (if you have not requested one, you may receive a request for an absentee ballot in the mail before September 14), you will need to request an absentee ballot. You can print out a request for an absentee ballot here and mail it in or deliver it to your county clerk’s office. NOTE: IMPORTANT DEADLINE: your request for your absentee ballot must be received on or before Tuesday, October 20th.
- Set the date on your calendar that you will either 1) go to the polling place to vote in person or 2) send in your absentee ballot by mail or deposit your envelope containing your ballot in a drop box that will be available at your county clerk’s office or at other designated If you use a “Reminders”, “Tasks” or a similar app, set the date and time in it as well.
- VOTE EARLY!!! You can put your absentee ballot in mail in your absentee ballot anytime before Tuesday, October 27. Note: it must be received by the post office on that date. Don’t make the mistake of depositing it in a mail box after the time of the last pickup; your vote will not be counted!
- Early voting in person starts Tuesday, October 6th, at your county clerk’s office and on Saturday, October 17th, at other locations. Early voting in person ends on October 31. Check with your county clerk’s office for those locations and hours of operation.
- If you choose to vote in person but don’t have your own transportation, please arrange it in advance and confirm it with the person or service that will transport you to and from the voting location prior to the day and time you chose.
- If you decide to vote absentee, fill out your ballot carefully, making sure to input all the required information correctly and legibly and either deliver it to the post office, your county clerk’s office, or deposit into a special drop box available at any polling place during its hours of operation. NOTE: All absentee ballots must be mailed out to voters by the County Clerk’s office by on Wednesday, October 21.
How to Know if Your Absentee Vote is Received
We in New Mexico can help to ensure that our vote will be counted by voting early and verifying the results prior to the November 3rd election.
We can personally keep track of our mail-in ballots. The bar code on the return envelope for each absentee ballot is individual to each absentee voter. Early voters can check their absentee ballot status by going here.
For more information about voting and how your vote is protected you can go here.
How to Help to Ensure Safe and Secure Elections
You can help to make sure that our polling places function properly by applying to be a poll worker. To learn how, go here.
Organizations like Common Cause New Mexico have programs to secure the integrity of our elections. If you are interested in volunteering to serve as an independent poll water with CCNM, go here. You can also go to that site to report any suspicious election irregularities.
Tell Your Friends and Loved Ones
Go the extra mile to make sure that the people you know exercise their right and citizen’s obligation to vote and share with them the information set forth here with them. It will be featured on our website and on our Facebook page.
A representative democracy can only work properly if its citizenry is informed and votes! So please, familiarize yourself with the issues and the candidates and make sure you vote early and encourage everyone you know to do the same.
John House is President of RepresentUs New Mexico.