Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Early Voting as Emergency Preparedness

As we speak, Americans living on the East Coast are now facing the daunting task of clean-up following the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. Their homes are destroyed, their power is out, and many have lost loved ones or are dealing with serious injuries. And the presidential election is just a week away.

Today, I heard a news story detailing issues that are facing New York City in terms of their readiness to hold normal election activities on Nov. 6. Power outages and water damage could affect many locations meant to serve as polling stations, and transportation outages in the subway system pose serious obstacles to voters. City officials are discussing how to deal with these issues and are contemplating possible solutions, ranging from providing electrical generators to opening substitute polling locations for citizens whose polling stations are inaccessible.

Of course, many people in every state have voted early, myself included. I voted on the campus of the community college I attend, and I am so glad that I did. I even got a special voter sticker, which I wore proudly all day, and then retired to mark the day on my calendar.

Early voters in the affected areas are now afforded the opportunity to spend their time dealing with damage in their neighborhoods, visiting injured loved ones, or spending their time in prayer.

A lot of people are "Election Day Voters," and I understand that. Voting on Election Day is exciting, especially if it's your first time. But from a practical standpoint, voting early should be a priority. The point of voting is to choose our leaders, not to have a cool experience. By voting early, you ensure that your voice will be counted, in spite of potential illness, natural disaster, car accident, etc etc. You go and vote, and then you're done. You no longer need to worry.

Barack Obama's grandmother died the day before election day in 2008. She never got to see her grandson become president, but her vote was counted. She voted by absentee ballot, and was sure to mail it off plenty early enough. She was prepared.

From what I understand, it is too late to request an absentee ballot, at least here in Nevada. But you can still vote early. I wasn't able to find a nonpartisan site with early vote locations, but I know that you can visit Obama's site, and it can show you where to vote early. If you live in Nevada, you can find your early vote locations at the Secretary of State's website.

I encourage you to vote early. It could be your only chance.