Regardless of the politics in the upcoming election, two tragedies will surely come to pass: People who vote by mail won’t get an adorable “I Voted” sticker, and many other people will not vote at all.
The former is unfortunately unavoidable, and I am sure everyone else is as upset about it as I am. The latter isn’t. Year after year, the voter turnout hovers around the 55–60% mark—55.7% in the 2016 presidential election. That does punch a hole in the idea that our government represents everyone.
America may take extreme pride in its democracy, and the people and their votes’ role in that democracy—but at the same time, America has and continues to create barriers to participating in that democracy. An election day destined to always fall on Tuesday is an inconvenience for anyone who has to work. A limited number of ballot boxes creates longer lines and a greater hassle to find them. Voter ID laws cast an undue burden on voters without an ID or license.
The coronavirus pandemic has only made voting more important and more precarious. Politicians up to the level of president flout mail in voting and public safety rules. It is fair not to want to vote surrounded by voters who flout those public safety rules as well.
Then there are less fair reasons not to vote this November.
Missing the Deadline
The deadline to register to vote in Oregon is October 13
Registering online? The deadline is October 13. Registering with a printed paper form? That form needs to be postmarked or dropped off to the county elections office by October 13. However you register to vote, remember that you need to do so before October 13.
The deadline to vote is November 3
Mail-in voting complicates the deadline, when ballots have to be received by the county elections office by that November 3 date—to be postmarked by November 3 is not enough. For last minute voters, there is still the option of dropping your ballot off in a drop box dotted across the county.
How early to send in your ballot can also depend on how far that ballot needs to go.
Where to Register
College students have an interesting decision in the election that won’t be on the ballot. They might have a choice which ballot they receive.
In Oregon, students have the option of either voting where their family lives or where they’re going to school. This is an important reason to check and update your voter registration, even if you know you’re already registered. You might want to vote in Oregon, where measures could raise the cigarette tax or legalize hallucinogenic mushrooms in certain therapy programs. You might want to have your Oregon ballot sent elsewhere, or request an absentee ballot from another state.
Students can choose between voting for laws where they’re at, or voting for the laws they’ll meet when they return home—but they can only choose one or the other.
No matter where you vote in America, we’ll all have one of the most contentious presidential elections on our ballot. America will give you the right to vote—but may not make it easy.
So if you can, vote. Vote like your life depends on it. Vote with passion.