Despite barriers, make sure your voice is heard by voting

October 22, 2020 12:20 am

A voter on a bicycle drops off their ballot at a drive through drop-off for absentee ballots. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images).

Ohio’s voting procedures have been visible in the news. There are reports that nearly 50,000 of mail-in absentee ballots have been sent out incorrectly, with the wrong name or address. Another report tells of how a company in charge of printing ballots sent wrong ballots to one state, or just flat-out haven’t mailed ballots out to Ohioans, blowing past their October 6 deadline.

The flashpoint of U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s removal of postboxes, mail sorting machines, and possible reconfiguration of mail and delivery schedules and routes had its lynchpin in central Ohio. Clearly, there’s been a lot of controversy with how America votes, with Ohio finding itself at the center, more times than you’d think.

COVID-19 has changed the way we vote for the time being, with social distancing naturally mandating longer queues and waiting in line. Franklin County has struggled with inconsistent wait times; sometimes as low as twenty minutes, and sometimes in the range of hours-long as the line to get in the board of elections wraps around the building.

Summit County has a similar story, as traffic on Wolf Ledges Street snarls, as people attempt to pull in, park, and vote. Similar stories exist in Hamilton and Cuyahoga counties, as a record number of voters show up to make their voices heard. Other counties have less of a wait.

On some level, this is inspiring. People are more energized than ever to vote, and they’re willing to possibly risk getting COVID-19 to get out there and make sure their voice is heard. They’re waiting in the rain, or cold, or in the long lines, because they recognize that voting is that important. 

But why does Ohio’s voting have to be so hard?

In other states, their respective state governments have made attempts to make voting easier. For example, Georgia’s Fulton County (Atlanta metropolitan area) has more than 20 different locations to early vote. The state of Georgia even enlisted the State Farm Arena, home of the Atlanta Hawks basketball team, as a space for Atlanta residents to early vote. Tennessee is similar, with the Nashville having at least ten different places for residents to early vote. California automatically sent mail-in ballots to every active voter in their state.

Yet, in Ohio voting seems to be a challenge. There’s only one space per county to do in-person early voting. Although many are staying motivated, even waiting in the pouring rain to cast their vote, to expect that every voter will remain that energized is naïve.

Some people have no doubt seen the lines, read the news, and have been discouraged. When they’re that discouraged, and that disenfranchised, they stay home. Hopefully, their discouragement is only temporary, and they’ll explore other methods of voting – either on election day, or via mail-in ballot.

Long lines aren’t inspiring. News that ballots have been printed wrong, do not do anything but create distrust. With early voting being a hardship for some, that does not engender trust that election day voting will be much better.

True, voting procedures in other states may not be perfect, but they seem more on the way to being equitable. Ohio’s are severely lacking. Some might say that it’s textbook voter suppression.

What do we do in the future? Post 2020, however, this election may shake out, and when COVID-19 finally does subside, we have to remember that the way we vote in Ohio is not acceptable. Something in the future has to change, to make sure that all Ohioans have the ability and access to easy and fair polling locations.

Whether this takes effort from the Governor, or either political party leader remains to be seen, but it needs to be done. Making sure all Ohioans can vote shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Voting is fundamental to our country and without it, democracy is broken. 

Please make sure your voice is heard, and vote.



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Kevin Williams
Kevin Williams

Kevin Williams is a freelance writer, focused on structural inequality. He is also a northeast Ohio native, and has graduated from The Ohio State University.