We have a very important and critical election on the calendar coming up this November 3.

We will be faced with choices from the top of the ballot to our local races for school board and for county commissioner.

As I am asking for your vote and your support to be your next Dare County Commissioner, I am also expressing my strong support for expanded mail in voting for this upcoming election and beyond. We must insist that we are able to vote safely and securely. It is our right and it is our government’s duty to provide us the means to do so. We MUST demand it.

It wasn’t that long ago that large segments of our population didn’t even have the right to vote. It was only two generations ago for me with my grandmother who was born before women fought for and earned that right.

Two constitutional amendments were necessary to insure that women, persons of color, and all of those who were previously enslaved were given that right.

The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the federal government and each state from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen’s “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” It was ratified on February 3, 1870

The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the states and the federal government from denying the right to vote to citizens of the United States on the basis of sex. It was ratified on August 18, 1920 when my grandmother was 7.

We must be assured that our election process works for all of us – especially now in this time of social distancing and concerns for everyone’s safety.

Mail-in voting is currently very common. Our military votes by mail. Our residents who live abroad vote by mail. Five states currently conduct all elections entirely by mail: Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and Utah. At least 21 other states have laws that allow some type of mail in voting. Even the president votes by mail.

Although, we may not be able to go to a complete vote by mail system here in North Carolina by November. Here are a few things we can do.

1. Encourage voters to ask for an absentee ballot. Ballots will be mailed out much earlier this year. Right after Labor Day.

  • You can request that your absentee ballot form be mailed to you by either completing the form available on the NC Board of Elections website and sending it to your county board of elections office: https://www.ncsbe.gov/Voting-Options/Absentee-Voting (Dare County’s address is: County of Dare, Board of Elections, P.O. Box 1000, Manteo, NC 27954.)
  • or by filling in the information at Vote.org and the form will be emailed to you to mail to Dare County: https://www.vote.org/absentee-ballot/
  • Either way you don’t have to leave your house to receive your ballot for this fall’s election.

2. Have secure drop off boxes for your ballot during the early voting period, and on election day at early voting sites and/or precincts. This will help lessen the health risk to those working the polls and those voting. This is also helpful if a voter doesn’t want to mail their ballot back and wants to deliver it to a secure location. Also, “expand curbside voting for voters of all ages. This would allow voters to drive up, receive a ballot, and return it to be counted—all without leaving their car. Many states provide this service for disabled or elderly voters. It should be expanded for everyone.” – Marc Elias, The Atlantic

3. Make election day a state holiday. Have county employees serve as poll workers. “States must guarantee adequate staffing at polls by turning to staff at state (county) agencies and to students. Even in the best of times, recruiting, training, and deploying enough poll workers for in-person voting is a challenge. In 2018, 68 percent of poll workers were over 60 years old and more than a quarter were over 70. Government employees should receive overtime pay for working Election Day, and college and high school students should receive both pay and course credit for their effort.” – Marc Elias, The Atlantic

4. Postage must be free or prepaid by the government. (This is a great way to support our post office.)

5. Ballots postmarked on or before Election Day must count. Ballots can be tracked with bar codes just like regular certified mail so that those mailed on time would be counted. Both the voter and the county would be able to tell when those ballots are sent and received.

6. Send the voter an acknowledgement via email or text (mail if necessary) based upon the information provided on the ballot that their ballot was counted.

I am sure there are more things we can do to make our voting safe, secure, fair, and equitable.

Expanded, if not complete, mail in voting is the best method that we have available to us and can definitely be put in place for our November 3 general election!