Letter to the Editor
Hello to all Northern Arkansans! It’s Elaine again, along with my trusty dog, Elsa, and we’re getting more and more exhausted with all the distressing news that’s beset us this year, including the ongoing COVID pandemic, the West Coast apocalyptic fires, and the violent riots in the streets (not to be confused with the peaceful protests by those exercising their first amendment rights of free speech). And now we’ve got a vacancy in the Supreme Court (R.I.P. Justice Ginsburg!), a seat for which desperate efforts are being made to fill in haste before the November election. Speaking of which, these tragedies, among others, make me realize how important this upcoming election really is. Things have become so chaotic that even many of our leaders are not sure which way to turn. They seem to be counting on us to make the right choices in this election that hopefully will bring sanity back to our country. That’s right, they need US, that’s YOU AND ME! The power to make a difference is in our hands, and now is the time for us to step up to the plate and VOTE!
I know, I have been guilty of telling myself before that my vote won’t matter, that the election has already been decided. Don’t be fooled by the polls. Not this time! Everyone’s vote counts, and regardless of your party affiliation, we all need to vote because our democracy is at stake (meaning our system of government based on free choices by the people for the people). You see, this election is being infiltrated with all kinds of conspiracies, so it is very important for your voice to be heard! Efforts by both domestic and foreign powers to interfere and spread misinformation about the voting process are designed to DISCOURAGE you from voting! These are desperate destructive attempts to cast doubts in our minds about the integrity of our election process, and especially of our postal service which handles mail-in (absentee) ballots. I would like to clarify that the USPS is a non-partisan federal service that reliably delivers all mail to us, and has done so for centuries. The following information comes from the county clerk’s office and online sites, including www.usps.com/votinginfo and www.sos.arkansas.gov.
If voting by absentee ballot, you must request an application from your local County Clerk’s office by phone or in person, or download the form at the above Arkansas link. Your application must be signed and returned to your local County Clerk’s office with a copy of your photo ID by mail, fax, or in person by or before Oct. 27. Once you receive a ballot, two envelopes are included with instructions. Please follow the instructions CAREFULLY. After you have filled out your ballot, make sure you sign BOTH envelopes and include a copy of your photo ID in the outer envelope. If you would like someone to hand deliver your ballot for you rather than mail it, that person’s name and signature must be on BOTH the application and ballot and they need to show their photo ID upon delivery. If mailing, the sooner you put it in the mail, the better. But preferably BRING IT IN to your local polling location once early voting has started (Oct. 19). Note: Any ballots received AFTER Election Day (Nov. 3) will NOT be counted, regardless of postmark date! Once at the County Clerk’s office, the outer envelope is opened to verify the voter’s identification. The inner envelope remains sealed and is placed under lock and key until Election Day. An electronic voter database tracks whether voters have sent in a vote-by-mail application/ballot, and is cross-checked at the polls to avoid duplication of votes. Signatures and ID verification are crucial!
If you will be voting in person in Fulton, Izard, or Sharp County, early voting begins Oct. 19 (Hours: M-F, 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.; Saturdays, Oct. 24 and Oct. 31, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. and Monday, Nov. 2, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.). Early voting is encouraged, not just for your convenience, but to avoid waiting in a potentially long line. On Election Day, Nov. 3, polls are open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Also note that all polling locations are hopefully COVID-free: Masks must be worn at all times and personal protection guidelines (disinfectant use and social distancing) will be followed.
I strongly encourage any and all of you who are of age to exercise your right to vote. Also, do not let anyone dictate who you vote for or intimidate you into NOT voting at all! Please do not let all of the misinformation and conspiracies that are floating around out there dissuade you. Make sure you use the power that our Constitution has given to all of us, and VOTE your conscience in this November 2020 election! And remember, your vote COUNTS!
Good wishes and good health to all,
Elaine and Elsa (El&El) AKA Elaine Brown, Hardy, Ark.