Planning Your Vote, Making It Count

By Sandra Long Weaver
Tribune Editorial Director

How are you voting? When are you voting? What’s your plan?

If you haven’t made a plan, there’s even more urgency with the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Her death at age 87 has created a vacancy on the nine-member court.

The opening on the nine-member Supreme Court should be filled by the person who will be elected president on Nov. 3 and not rushed through a Senate confirmation before the election. Two appointments have already been made by the current administration. A third appointment is unprecedented.

My husband and I have already voted. We executed our plan by going to the Sumner County Election Commission in August and requesting our mail-in ballots. We had to fill out a form requesting the ballot with sanitized pens and show our identification. We were told we would receive the ballots in mid-September.

We made our plan to do the mail-in ballots in June because we were concerned about staying safe while the coronavirus is still raging. In Tennessee, you cannot request the mail-in ballot because of the fear of contracting the virus. We were able to do so because we both are over 60.

And we received the ballots on Sept. 14. We carefully read through the directions to fill out the ballot (no red ink). And we mailed them back on the next day.

They have arrived. We checked. Our votes will be counted. Make your plan and execute it so your vote will be counted too.

We had to do some research on the local candidates because they had not really started campaigning. But we went through the list very carefully and selected the candidates we felt would do their best to represent all of the people and not just a segment of the population.

Once the ballot is completed, it goes inside an envelope that has your name, signature and the district in which you live. That sealed envelope then goes inside another envelope to mail back to the Election Commission. It cannot be hand delivered. And it must have a stamp.

Are you registered to vote? It’s not too late The deadline to register online or to register by mail or in person to vote is Monday, Oct. 5. 

It is not too late to request a mail-in ballot. Your request has to be received by Tuesday, Oct. 27. But it must be mailed back in and received by Nov. 3. If that is your plan, do it today and mail it back in immediately. Do not wait.

If your plan is to do early voting in person, check now to learn where the nearest polling place is located to you. Early voting starts Wednesday, Oct. 14 and runs through Thursday, Oct. 29.

Consider these things as you make your plan to do early voting: What time are the polls open? How will you get to your polling place? Will you need help? Who will be able to take you? 

What identification will you take with you? Do you have a driver’s license or passport or some other government ID? Put it in a place where it is easy to find and you have easy access to it so you can show when you get ready to vote.

Plan to wear your mask. You may need gloves. Lines are often shorter during early voting but if it is a long line, are you able to stand for a long period of time? If not, will chairs be available?

If you do not want to vote early, is your plan to vote on election day, Tuesday, Nov. 3?  How will you make that happen? What time will you go to the polls? Will anyone be going with you? 

Only 65 percent of Black registered voters went to the polls in 2012 when President Barack Obama was elected to his second term in office. 

We need 100 percent of Black registered voters to go the polls. It is disrespectful of our ancestors, many of whom marched, fought and even died so we could vote.

Make your plan. Share your plan with family and friends. Organize a group to go together to the polls. 

Just vote.