What Is Your Voting Plan?
Three ways you can still cast a ballot
This is it — your final chance to have a say in the 2020 general election and, moreover, in the direction of the state of Pennsylvania and our American nation. To choose who best represents the virtues and values of a human majority, and the image we project around the globe. You do this, of course, by voting.
If you haven't cast your mail-in or absentee ballot yet, there are still a few options available to you.
Use the dropbox
If you requested a mail-in or absentee ballot and have not yet returned it, you may still deposit it in the dropbox located at the Erie County Courthouse, 140 W. Sixth St., Erie, PA 16501.
- Carefully mark your choices on the ballot in black ink, making sure you fill out both the front and back.
- Seal your ballot in the white inner secrecy envelope. Do not color, decorate, or any way defile the secrecy envelope, as that would undermine its air of secrecy (and void your ballot).
- Tuck the sealed secrecy envelope into the pre-addressed return envelope, and then seal that. Sign and date the voter declaration on the outside, and double-check that it matches your legal identity, otherwise it shall not pass. And that will be sad because you wanted to participate in democracy but you were just a little bit off.
The cutoff time is 8 p.m. Tuesday night, so be sure to get your ballot there before then.
Head to the polls
Unless, of course, you've changed your mind and would rather vote in-person. If that describes your situation, bring your mail-in ballot and the pre-addressed envelope with you to your designated polling place. The presiding election official will void those items and you will then proceed to the poll as you would normally.
Well, not entirely normally — there is this thing called COVID-19 still happening. That being the case, the Centers for Disease Control offers the following guidance:
- Wash your hands both before AND after visiting your polling place
- Come packing — not firearms (because voter intimidation is pretty sketchy), but an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60 percent ABV). Dab accordingly.
- If you find yourself compelled to cough and/or sneeze, muffle that cough or sneeze in your shoulder or elbow.
- Wear a mask that covers both your mouth and nose.
- Keep six feet between yourself and the voters ahead of or behind you.
- Try to vote at off-peak hours, such as mid-morning or early afternoon. If you have the time, stay in your car and wait for your best opening.
If for some reason you cannot use the dropbox or cast your ballot the standard way, there is still hope for your vote by way of provisional ballot. A provisional ballot serves as a record of who you voted for until the local board of elections determines whether you are eligible. There are several scenarios where a provisional ballot comes into play:
- Your name is not in the poll book or supplemental poll book at your polling place (i.e., you maybe went to the wrong one or one that does not correspond to a recent change of address).
- You do not have a valid form of identification with you.
- You applied for a mail-in or absentee ballot, did not return it by mail or dropbox, and do not have it with you.
- Your mail-in or absentee ballot was rejected by the county board of elections but you believe it was in error.
- You have a special court order in regard to your registration status.
- You have a special court order allowing you to submit your ballot beyond the set voting hours (7 a.m. to 8 p.m.)
You will be asked to fill out your provisional ballot in the presence of election officials, who will ultimately make the call as to whether or not it will be counted. You can check its status online or by calling 1-877-VOTESPA.
Be safe, be civil, and be smart. Happy voting.
Matt Swanseger can be reached at email@example.com