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Cynthia Wisehart on the Election

The Secretaries of State across our country are in the middle of executing a giant seven-month change order. Actually, it’s multiple change orders for simultaneous job sites all over the country, under a range of jurisdictions, laws, and code requirements—some updating in real time.

There are scope conflicts, staffing issues, and problems with the venue(s) not being available. There are first-time workflows being overlaid onto long-standing expectations. There are communication voids and fails; sometimes too little information, sometimes too much of the wrong information. There is frustration and finger-pointing, new firmware and bad manuals. Support lines can be busy, or rollover to voicemail from mid-March when the office closed for pandemic. “Please send an email.”

I’m not trying to be negative. As I know from site work, no matter what they think in the bleachers, change is hard. It takes logistical grit and good nerves and measured tones. We are changing a long-standing workflow that affects every aspect from deadlines, to communication to staffing to how far apart to put the chairs.

As we go to press, the voting process has begun. I’m working on get out the vote, as I do most elections. Some places things are going well. I call Miami Dade and they are up and running; people answer the phone with convincing information. In my own state, not so much.

From my experience, a lot of GOTV is logistical. Where is the polling place? Is there parking? What time of day is best to go? Will you need childcare? (Will you need to vote separately from your family members?) In every election, this has been satisfying work, with good answers and relatively simple plans to be made. That’s still true for some people. But for many, it’s obviously way more complicated to vote, just like everything else in 2020.

If I may say from experience, don’t take anything about your vote for granted this year. Check at your state’s website to confirm you are registered at your current address, especially if you are a first time voter. Research whether you want to vote by mail, dropoff your vote, vote in person early, or vote in person on Election Day depending on your state’s options. In many cases those options are probably different than last time you voted (and different from what you have heard on Facebook).

Take note of when your state actually counts mail/dropoff ballots (for most it’s not until Election Day no matter when the ballot is received). That might affect your plan.

It can be a hassle—one more thing to muscle through in pandemic. It’s easy to be cynical, so that’s why I make the GOTV calls. I get to talk to real people of differing viewpoints who are just trying to do their duty and exercise their citizenship as they see it, while working around all the 2020 variables in their path. Those conversations can be hard, because many times people’s obstacles to voting are their obstacles in general—age, disability, family responsibilities, transportation, time, childcare, safety, and this year especially—uncertainty. What I don’t hear are glib, easy criticisms. I hear people who are trying. Like the people who always kept me going on site. So I keep trying too.

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