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Opinion

The perils of voting in 2020


  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Sep. 29, 2020 - 5:43 PM

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I hope I never lose the excitement of voting that I have had since my first presidential election in 1976.

While I am happy to be able to say that the excitement is still with me, unfortunately, in the 2020 election, along with that excitement has been a healthy dose of fear and anxiety.

My heart was beating rapidly, and I must confess to downright fear, as I cast my vote today. Why was I experiencing such an array of emotions? It is because this year, for the first time, I voted in a presidential election in which I chose to cast an absentee mail-in ballot.

We have been warned by a myriad of different sources of the inherent dangers of attempting to vote in this way. The current Administration, multiple conspiracy theorists, and even regular contributors to the Newnan Times-Herald have warned against the folly of attempting what I was about to do. Would my vote become one of the millions and millions of fraudulent ballots that the aforementioned sources have warned us about?

Throwing caution to the wind, I pressed on. I felt because I had heeded all the warnings that I was prepared for any eventuality. I chose to place my ballot in the official drop box outside the Coweta County Administration Building at 22 E. Broad St. I knew, however, that this alone was not going to ensure that my ballot was not going to fall victim to foul play. I slowly circled the Administration Building looking for anything that seemed out of place. I pulled into the parking lot and then . . . to be continued.

I have been all over the political map when it comes to voting, especially in presidential elections. Despite passage of the 26th Amendment to the Constitution in 1971, I narrowly missed voting in the 1972 election, as I turned 18 in December of that year. I experienced defeat my first time out in 1976, when I cast my vote for incumbent Republican President Gerald Ford.

Since my first presidential election I have voted the Republican ticket in 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996 and 2000. I have voted the Democratic ticket in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016. I have only voted once for an independent candidate, and that was in 1980, when I voted for Congressman John Anderson of Illinois. So, I have a losing record in presidential elections.

The losing record was never really a cause of concern for me, because I could always live with the winner of those elections. That is until the election of 2016. Neither candidate was very desirable to me. It was a classic “lesser of two evils” election. I was not alone, as the candidates were the most unpopular within their respective parties in history. What then caused my struggle for the first time with the results when I came out on the losing end of another presidential election?

The reasons for not being able to support the Republican ticket were my cause for consternation when it was victorious. Never before had I not supported a presidential ticket because my family has a long history of military service. Never before had I not supported a presidential ticket because I am the grandson of Irish immigrants. Never before had I not supported a presidential ticket because I watched a brother grow up with a disability inflicted upon him by polio when he was 3 years old. These were never things that influenced my vote in the past; therefore my reaction was, in turn, not as it was previously.

I now return to this year. As I approached the official drop box and prepared to deposit my ballot, I was going over how I had prepared myself. I had this recurring nightmare that individuals dressed all in black wearing “I love Nancy Pelosi” t-shirts would attack me from behind. They would take my ballot, scan it with high tech gamma x-rays, and only allow me to deposit it in the drop box if I was supporting the Democratic ticket. To this end, I had constructed a mockup of the ballot box and practiced walking backward and opening it with my arms behind my back. But alas, nothing impeded my utilization of the official drop box.

I am happy to report that I successfully voted today. I give all the credit to the aforementioned people who have issued mail-in ballot warnings, and of course, the practice on my ballot box mockup. I can even check the status of my ballot regularly on the My Voter Page of the Georgia Secretary of State: https://www.mvp.sos.ga.gov/MVP/back2HomePage.do . But I suppose it is still possible to fall victim, as the 0.000002 percent of the ballots cast in the 2016 race for the White House that were found to be faulty can attest.

Whether you plan on voting Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or Write-in, please make sure you vote. It is your cherished right as a citizen.

Lawrence Burns

Newnan