Well, Hoosiers, the time is nigh to share your voice and your vote in the 2020 general election. With just over two months before Election Day, amidst a worldwide pandemic, I think we can all say that this is one of the most taxing elections in our lifetimes. But, even during a public crisis, all Hoosiers can still say that they have a Constitutional right to vote for those who best represent them in government.
Now, I view this right to vote to be one of the most sacred in our country. I have always felt that we must continue to remove barriers that impede on this right – because nothing should get in the way of your right to vote and ability to share your voice. This belief holds especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our state and local leadership have consistently told us that to stop the spread of COVID-19 from skyrocketing, we need to hunker down and stay home when we can. This makes sense! We want to protect the most vulnerable among us from this disease. However, what we can’t do is allow this to force our friends and family to choose between their health and their right to vote. I’ve always held the belief that if we are asking Hoosiers to stay home and stay safe, then we need to give them the options to vote safely too.
This is why I have pushed for giving all Hoosiers the option for no-excuse absentee voting. Currently, we are only one of six states that will not give this option to Hoosier families during this pandemic. If you ask me, I prefer an Indiana that leads on this issue and is a national champion for safeguarding Hoosier lives and advocating safe ways for us to vote.
Unfortunately, it looks like this common-sense option will not be available for all Hoosiers. The Governor and Secretary of State have refused to allow all hard-working Hoosiers the option of safely voting by mail. And, a U.S. District judge refused to order Indiana to allow this voting alternative. It’s not what many of us wanted, but in the end, we will still have to find ways to vote safely and make sure our votes are counted.
We are proud Hoosiers, and we are proud Americans. We don’t sit by and let others make decisions for us. Being a Hoosier means being engaged in your community and the democratic process. I’m sure that even during this pandemic, we can find a way to be resilient and make our voices heard. Therefore, I encourage you to find the safest ways to cast your ballot right now.
First, I encourage absentee ballot voting for all those who qualify. Fortunately, absentee voting is easy and secure! There are 11 reasons that currently qualify you to be able to apply for an absentee ballot in Indiana. If you fall into one of these categories, you can either go to IndianaVoters.com or call the St. Joseph County Absentee Board office at (574) 235-1812 to get an application. You can call today to apply for your own absentee ballot. In fact, the County Clerk’s office has already received nearly 6,000 requests to-date. Just make sure that the county office receives your absentee ballot, whether in the mail or dropped off in person, by noon on Election Day.
Next, early voting will be available from October 6 to November 2. If you cannot vote absentee, I recommend voting early to avoid any lines or congregating on Election Day. The more we can spread folks out during early voting, the more likely we can avoid large groups of people voting at once on November 3, just as we witnessed in the June Primary Election. We must distance ourselves to keep our families safe and prevent COVID-19 from spreading further! Call the St. Joseph County Absentee Board office at (574) 235-1812 for more info on early voting.
Also, I strongly urge young Hoosiers to please consider serving your state and working the polls this fall. Currently, our state’s average age of poll workers is 72, an age that is clearly more vulnerable to this disease we are trying to stop. Working the polls is a noble and patriotic job, and you have the chance to help your family and neighbors who would prefer to stay home and stay safe. Don’t forget – you will also be paid for your service as a poll worker.
It’s true that 2020 has been an anxious roller coaster these past several months. Our right to vote is sacred. Let’s make sure that nothing stands in our way. Vote absentee if you can. Take advantage of early voting. Work the polls in the place of our elderly or vulnerable Hoosiers. Wear your mask and distance yourself from others. Let’s come together, Mask Up and make this a successful election for St. Joseph County, our state and our country.
Sen. David Niezgodski (South Bend)