New Orleans Democrats Need to Vote Early and In-Person

With the 2020 Presidential election weeks away, voters in New Orleans might be tempted to think that their individual vote will not impact the results of the election.  After all, New Orleans is a big blue Democratic city located in a red state that has not gone blue since the 1992 Presidential election. The truth, however, is that Vice President Biden needs EVERY vote to win.  According Nate Silver’s Five-Thirty-Eight, Biden’s chances of victory only become “pretty certain” if he wins the popular vote by more than 5 percentage points nationally. We are talking about millions and millions of votes needed to overcome the Republican edge in the Electoral College.

The good news is all signs point to a truly massive voter turnout this November, what many experts are calling a once-in-a century turnout.  A recent study by the Pew Research Center indicated that 85% of Democrats and 86% of Republicans say the outcome of this election “really matters,” compared to only 50% of voters during the 2000 election cycle.  All indications are that Democrats will be voting their strength in this election.  The question is when to vote and how? The answer is Democratic voters need to cast their ballots early and whenever possible, in person.  New Orleans typically offers four early voting locations.  With massive turnout expected this year, Council member Helena Moreno offered a resolution, passed unanimously by the City Council, to use the Smoothie King Center as a voting site during the early voting period from October 16th through 27th.  New Orleans voters who are able to do so would be wise to use the early, in-person option this year, while leaving the mail-in ballot option to those who really need it.

While the predicted increase in turnout is fantastic news, a large number of voters turning out on election day, or relying on mail-in ballots will place a great deal of stress on election day systems and the U.S. Postal Service.  The Postal Service warned states just last month that delays in mail-in ballot delivery could affect the mail-in vote count. In letters to states across the country, USPS the said that, “certain deadlines…are incongruous with the Postal Service’s delivery standards.” These anticipated delays will likely result in large numbers of mail-in ballots being disregarded. Importantly, even during a normal election year, and this year is certainly not normal, tens of thousands of mail ballots are routinely disregarded, either because they are improperly completed, or because they are received after the deadline.

Democratic voters need only listen closely to Trump’s rhetoric to understand how he plans to invalidate our votes.  A necessary emphasis on early voting is further underscored by the President’s recent unprecedented remarks that he may not concede the election. In the event of a loss, Trump consistently signals that he will attempt to suppress the Biden vote by declaring a large number of mail-in ballots to be fraudulent.  That he makes these claims in spite of national data that proves him wrong is classic Trump – he refuses to let the facts interfere with his version of reality.  Many people have mistakenly discounted Donald Trump’s statements as nothing more than threats and bluster. If there were any lingering doubts about his intent, however, he made it very clear during last night’s debate.

In the midst of a very chaotic 90 minutes where Trump appeared argumentative and rambling, he messaged what is to come.  Listening closely, you heard him methodically foreshadow his plan for stealing the November election.   First, Trump wisely seized the moment to remind his supporters to be sure to vote in person. This was very calculated.  Next, he returned to his manufactured narrative about dysfunctional “Democrat-run” cities and states where chaos reigns and crime on the rise. When confronted by Chris Wallace with the fact that crime is on the rise everywhere, including places where Republicans govern, he quickly transitioned to offense moving on to a more convenient topic, because Honey Badger don’t care. Trump’s plan is clear.  He intends to suppress the Biden vote by discrediting mail-in ballots – focusing on votes cast in Democratic cities and communities.

In this critical year, where a recent poll found that some 75% of Republicans will vote in person while 50% of Democrats will vote by mail, Democrats need to do all they can to make their vote count.  Mail-in voting might be the only safe way for many of our citizens to make their voices heard – but, many of us can and should vote in person this year.  Like never before, every vote needs to count.  Whenever possible Democrats should vote early and vote in person.

Kea Sherman lives in New Orleans. She is an attorney, Co-Founder and Chairperson of Les Femmes PAC and member of OPDEC.

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