In my days as a political reporter for the Nashville Banner, Labor Day weekend was not just the unofficial end of summer. It was also the time that things kicked into high gear in whatever political races we were covering.
The same is true today. The November elections are now less than two months away. Voting is a civic duty, of course. But it is also an act of faith. Christianity has much to say about how a nation should govern its affair — primarily in taking care of the poor, the hungry, immigrants, and all others on the margins of society. No candidate, no party, no person will ever fully carry out those things, but voting gives us a say in whether those issues that are so important to God will also be important to us as a nation.
This November’s election comes with unique challenges. We will be voting in the midst of a pandemic that is already responsible for 188,000 deaths in this country. Many of us are understandably reluctant to vote in person at this time, and so will be requesting absentee ballots. But the recent dismantling of the post office may make voting that way a challenge, too.
With all that in mind, I asked one of our parishioners, Beth Tanis, a lawyer who is working on a large voting rights case, to outline what we need to do to make sure we are registered to vote and that our votes will count. Her advice is below. Thank you, Beth.
And attached is the service sheet for tomorrow morning’s Eucharist. See you at 10 a.m. tomorrow.
Here are some important facts and suggestions to make sure your vote counts:
- Check your voter registration status right away to make sure you are registered to vote and that the voter registration rolls have the correct information for you. You should do this even if you have voted in recent elections or you haven’t moved, as the voter registration rolls can unexpectedly contain changes and incorrect information. The deadline for registering to vote for the November 2020 election is October 5, 2020. If you check your registration now, you will have time to re-register or change incorrect information if necessary.
You can check your registration by going to the Georgia Secretary of State website (https://sos.ga.gov), clicking on the “Elections” tab at the top, and then going to the “Voter Info” tab. You will see an option for “My Voter Page.” Click that and provide the information requested by the My Voter Page to get your personal registration information. My Voter Page will also tell you where to find your polling place and where early voting locations are.
- Check your voting location before you vote. Several polling place locations have changed recently so do not assume that the place you used to vote is where you need to vote in the November election. And, if you want to vote early in person, remember that early voting locations are often different from the polling place location you use on Election Day. Early voting locations can also change depending on the day you want to vote. Early voting and Election Day voting locations are also available on the Georgia Secretary of State website, including through the My Voter Page discussed above.
- If you want to vote by mail, request an absentee ballot as soon as possible. Demand for absentee ballots will be far greater than usual and the problems with the US Postal Service will only add to the delays in you receiving your absentee ballot. You can request an absentee ballot through the Georgia Secretary of State website. When you go to the website, there are several places for requesting an absentee ballot, including through the My Voter Page discussed above.
- Return your absentee ballot as soon as possible to ensure your vote will be counted. Problems with your absentee ballot being counted can arise in a couple of ways. If your ballot is not delivered on time, it will not be counted. And, even if your ballot is received on time, the election officials might need additional information from you before they will count your ballot. You can return your absentee ballot: (a) by mail; (b) by dropping it into an absentee ballot drop box in your county; or (c) by hand-delivering it to your county election registrar’s office.
Attached is the current list of absentee ballot drop box locations for Fulton County. This list could change so it would be best to check with your county government’s website for the list that is current at the time you want to drop off your ballot.
The Fulton County government website is: https://www.fultoncountyga.gov/inside-fulton-county/fulton-county-departments/registration-and-elections/absentee-ballot-box and the
DeKalb County government website is: https://www.dekalbcountyga.gov/voter-registration-elections/voter-information