VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!
Happy election day!
The situation with the USPS is pretty concerning right now. If you haven’t heard, thanks to a lack of federal funding (ala President Trump once again), the USPS is struggling to keep up with orders and there’s some serious concern that it won’t be able to deliver people’s ballots in time for them to be counted.
So while voting by mail may seem like the most efficient option right now given the rising number of COVID-19 cases, voting in-person can in some ways be a safer bet if you’re healthy enough.
Rowdy Magazine writer Katie Delk’s bringing the details on her experience voting in-person at her local voting center in Hillsborough County, Tampa.
(Katie Delk / Rowdy Magazine online writer)
What you need to know to vote in-person:
Polls will be open until 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today. If you’re still waiting in line at 7 p.m., you’ll still be able to cast a ballot. In order to vote, you need to bring a form of identification and a mask.
Just remembered your mail-in ballot that’s sitting untouched on your countertop? It’s not too late to submit it!
Drop it off at your Supervisor of Elections by 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday and it’ll still count. To find your local Supervisor of Elections office in Florida, click here.
How safe are voting polls right now?
In your voting precinct, there should be many locations nearby. Right down the street from me, at the First Hispanic Presbyterian Church red voting signs greeted me.
Masks were mandatory; Every inspector at the polling place wore a mask and a face shield. For any voters that were not equipped with masks, they had some set aside.
As usual, the voting booths are separated by ballot boxes. Along with providing anonymity, the cardboard square boxes isolate voters.
According to Denise Manganello, a resident of Hillsborough County and a voting inspector, the poll workers wiped each table with Microban the night before in preparation for election day. After each voter departs, they clean the tables, as well. Because of COVID-19, each voter used and kept a new pen to fill out the ballot.
At the voting centers, usually one person acts as a deputy to ensure safety. This time, Manganello said each inspector fulfilled the role and reminded voters to maintain social distancing with 6 feet apart.
Another voting inspector Kelby Callahan said the workers arrived at 6 a.m. to clean and will stay at least another hour after the polls close to disinfect the area again.
But… the people…. And the lines… and the germs
While my polling place is small, Manganello said the day was slow. Only 10 people trickled in from the start of the morning. As a result, I sauntered right in. With my notes beside me, voting only took me three minutes — about the time it takes me to brush my teeth.
(Katie Delk / Rowdy Magazine Online Writer)
Manganello has worked election days for three years. This year, she said less people voted for the primary election in-person than she had ever seen. In March, she saw around 100 people throughout the day. However, due to the virus, she said more people used mail-in ballots.
According to ABC Action News, Hillsborough County sent out a record 315,000 mail-in ballots.
In Alachua County, WUFT found that requests for mail-in ballots rose.
However, while the USPS is endangered, Callahan urges voters to vote in-person if healthy.
Out of the 10 people, only one person other than myself was younger than 30. According to Callahan, a great number of young people overlook the importance of elections.
“They don't realize how much it affects them,” she said. “But I know also just being young, we have so much pressure on us to go to school, have a job and do all the stuff. More elderly people, you know, maybe have a lot more free time and can participate in civic engagement and everything versus us.”
Callahan said she eagerly started voting since she became eligible at 18. Now, Callahan volunteers at the polling places because she wants to protect the elder population that normally does.
Because the votes determine our future, Manganello said she hopes to see more young voters in the November election.
It is OUR future.
Katie Delk is an Online Writer at Rowdy Magazine. Her simple pleasures include meditating, sitting beneath trees, writing poetry and blasting '70s music. She cares immensely about the earth, powerful women and social justice. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org more info.