It’s been said so many times at this point, it’s almost cliché: the coronavirus pandemic has upended every part of our society. Every one of us is being asked to rethink every decision we make, and every interaction we have, in the context of risk: What’s the risk to my health, and am I risking the health of those around me?
While there’s certainly some risk in everything we do these days, we know that there’s also a spectrum. On one end, we know that large, sporting-event-type gatherings carry greater risk, while going for a walk in a local park with a mask on is comparatively safer.
In-person voting on Election Day is on the relatively higher-risk end of activities. That is why states across the country have been scrambling since the outbreak began to adapt their voting systems to accommodate more mail-in or absentee voting, while maintaining sufficient and socially-distant in-person locations. With less than six weeks before Arizona’s primary election and less than five months until the November general election, state and local officials need to keep that effort going full steam.
Meanwhile, there are steps voters can and should take now to ensure their own safety and participate in democracy. All the noise and partisan fighting about voting by mail, especially at the national level, should not obscure the fact that here in Arizona, the solution is actually quite simple.
Register to vote, update or confirm your voter registration
Do not wait to register or update your voter registration, especially if you have moved since the last election. Even if you have not changed addresses, it is good practice to look up your registration information to make sure that everything is correct. If it is not correct, your ballot or application will be sent to the wrong place.
Most states (39), including Arizona, allow you to register to vote or update your voter registration online which, besides being easier and faster, is obviously much safer in a pandemic. To register to vote or update your Arizona voter registration, go here.
Request your mail-in ballot
In Arizona, you can request a mail-in ballot for any reason, so if you haven’t already, to update your voter registration, go here. Receiving a mail-in ballot doesn’t preclude you from voting in person if you decide you prefer to vote that way instead.
If you vote in-person, be prepared
While mail-in voting is by far the safest option, there are still many people who prefer to vote in person. If you vote in person, make sure you are prepared. Check the list of items to bring with you to the polls. Also, check the location of your polling place, and consider early voting, because crowding and lines are less likely in the days before Election Day. And of course, wear a mask and practice social distancing if you go to the polls to vote.
Stay up to date on changes
Things are changing rapidly by the day. The best way you can stay prepared to vote in 2020 is to be informed as best as possible. Check with Arizona’s Secretary of State for updates and changes to election plans.
While many plans are uncertain, Arizona’s Election Days -- August 4 and November 3, 2020 – are not among them. There are concrete steps you can and should take now to ensure your own safety and ability to participate in democracy.