WTVM Editorial 9-18-20: In-person voting is low risk

(WTVM) - From now until Election Day the big debate about mail-in voting versus voting in person will only get bigger, because of COVID-19.

But if we stop and think about it, the risk of voting in person, for most of us, might be lower than you might think.

If you have been to the supermarket, or a retail store, or a dine-in restaurant, voting in person probably holds no greater risk than those activities.

It is true there were long lines during the primary elections. That was unacceptable and Georgia and Alabama officials say they learned from the experience.

In the general election, we know what we need to do. Line up outside, wear masks and socially distance.

During the primary, I voted in a large church community room with voting machines placed many feet apart. The poll workers also wore masks.

The process of voting electronically does not take very long, and a few minutes later, I was done.

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, which is a non-partisan legal resource group, says in person voting on November 3 can be done safely if those basic precautions are taken, plus a few more.

They recommend poll workers be tested for COVID immediately prior to Election Day.

Voting locations should be spacious, have good airflow, and constant disinfection. Most importantly, we need more, not fewer polling places.

Boards of Elections need to make voting easy for minorities, students and voters with disabilities.

But vulnerable folks, like the elderly or voters with major health concerns, should not vote in person, just as they should not venture into a grocery store.

If you know or take care of such a voter, please help them get an absentee ballot to make sure their vote counts.

Leaving aside the larger issue of the capabilities of the Post Office, regular absentee voting has worked well for years. It may require a bit of planning, but so does anything that is important.

If you vote in person, you need a plan, too. Leave yourself enough time to vote. Voting early is a great option. We also advocate giving employees time off to vote whenever possible.

Life goes on, even in a pandemic, and so do elections.

We have learned what risks are acceptable, how to take care of ourselves and who needs the most protection.

If we’re smart enough to figure that out, we’re smart enough to vote in person.

General Manager Holly Steuart brings an editorial a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to hsteuart@wtvm.com or write to:

WTVM Editorial Committee

1909 Wynnton Road

Columbus, GA 31906

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