As a Florida voter, I recently cast my vote, sending my overseas ballot on its way, tracked and signed for. It cost me £7.50 to ensure that my ballot gets to its intended destination well before election day, November 3.
While marking my ballot, I had to choose between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. I also had to pick my Congressional representative, state attorney, state senator (ie member of Florida state’s upper house, not a member of the US Senate) and a slew of appointments to the judiciary and the hospital board etc. Assorted referendums needed a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
Before I posted my tracked overseas vote, I contacted the office of the state supervisor of elections and ascertained how best to print off the ballot and mark and despatch it in order that it be properly counted. (I’ve never done that before but this is a momentous election year.) The official in question offered the necessary guidance and assured that every vote would be counted so long as it was correctly filled out and sent in time.
I have absolute faith that is exactly what will happen.
The process reminded me of how other friends and family who vote in various American states are negotiating the process. They are voting with care, deliberation and utmost regard to the seriousness of the act.
Several are sending in absentee ballots in advance. One is making a one-on-one arrangement with her town hall clerk in Wisconsin to complete and hand over her absentee ballot in person. Still others plan to vote in-person, but as early as they can.
This puts me in mind of the consistent drumbeat predicting absolute chaos on and after November 3. The chorus of doom is dangerously led by Mr Trump.
But across the US, there is lots to show that state officials are preparing and preparing well to manage an election made unique by a pandemic and a president who is determined to discredit the democratic process.
As of October 9, with just 26 days to go, more than 6.6 million people had cast their ballots in the general election. Wisconsin, Virginia and South Dakota have already exceeded 20 per cent of their vote total from four years ago.
Wisconsin, of course, is a battleground state. Not too long ago, I heard Mandela Barnes, lieutenant governor of Wisconsin, promise that his state had learned the lessons of the poorly organised April primary elections. In November, Mr Barnes indicated, the process will be smooth, safe and satisfactory.
By October 9, in Florida, about 1.2 million ballots had been cast, or about 12 per cent of the 2016 total, according to data gathered by Michael McDonald, a University of Florida professor who tracks early voting. “The number of people who have voted is staggering,” Mr McDonald told Bloomberg. “It’s just unprecedented, that level of interest.”
We’ll have to see what happens, of course, but the reality is that the chorus of doom suits only one particular narrative – one seeking to destabilise the democratic process.