Opinion: ‘We absolutely need to vote as soon as we get our ballots’

Nancy Churchill addresses the question of when should voters submit their ballots.

Nancy Churchill addresses the question of when should voters submit their ballots

Nancy Churchill
Dangerous Rhetoric

Vote Early, Vote Often!

OK, that’s a joke. Well, mostly a joke.

Election integrity experts tell me that in Washington state, we absolutely need to vote as soon as we get our ballots. Accepting that idea has been a big shift for me, as I was convinced otherwise in the last major election cycle.

Nancy Churchill
Nancy Churchill

During the 2022 election cycle, the prevailing opinion was that if we held our ballots and voted on Election Day, the “cheaters” (whoever they are) wouldn’t know how many fake ballots to produce to overcome our votes. After reviewing the information from election integrity experts who analyzed the results of the 2022 elections, it’s my opinion that the “Vote on Election Day” hypothesis has been proven false.

What do we do when the data doesn’t support our ideas? We try something different, rather than beating our heads against the wall.

Vote EARLY, as soon as possible

Besides the fact that voting on Election Day DOES NOT win elections in Washington, what is another good reason to vote early?

Lost Ballots. Ballots get set aside, and during the three week voting window it’s VERY easy to lose them, misplace them, or throw them away. I’ve done that myself. Many people don’t realize that voters can print a replacement ballot at home. Voters can also visit the auditor’s office to get a replacement ballot.

Instead, people feel foolish because they can’t find the darn thing, and just don’t bother to figure out how to vote without the original. What’s one vote? As we learned in the last local school board elections, one vote is the difference between winning and losing. Your ONE VOTE matters!

Open that ballot envelope up, and VOTE. Then deliver it into the system in your preferred way. I like taking it to the auditors office, or the local drop boxes.

One other very good reason to vote early: stop the political calls and mail. Yes, the campaigns can see which voters have returned their ballots. They also have a good understanding of your vote history. They will hound you for that precious ballot until they see you have turned it in. Once you’ve voted they’ll stop calling you, mailing you or knocking on your door.

Track your ballot

According to the Secretary of State website, “During an election, track your ballot at VoteWA.gov. Ballot status will update as your ballot is received and processed.”

When you visit the Vote WA Voter Portal, you can update your information and track your ballot. The Ballot Tracker screen shows four stages: Ballot mailed, Ballot received, Ballot Reviewed and Processed, Ballot Accepted.

So if you return your ballot on the first weekend, and the Auditor’s office hasn’t received it by the second weekend, then you still have time to make sure that somehow it didn’t get lost in the mail. There are three weekends during the election period.

Before you return your ballot, check and make sure your ballot does not already show “returned”. If you have the original ballot in your possession, that’s definitely an error which the auditor’s office needs to correct. However, if you lost your ballot, and it shows returned, you’ll have to go in to the auditor’s office with your identification and get them to help you cancel the previous ballot and issue a new ballot for you.

Vote Often!

We laugh at the phrase “vote often,” because that would obviously be the wrong thing to do. However, we can effectively “vote often” if we help our closest friends and family participate in the election.

Think about your immediate family and your best friends. That might be a group of five to 30 people. Make a list now, and call them over the next week to make sure they’re aware that they’re going to get a ballot for the presidential primary sometime around Friday, February 23 — the start of the 18-day presidential primary voting period.

The Presidential Primary is Coming

Help your family and friends to vote early. Plan a coffee, dinner or gathering for one of the first weekends of voting: the weekend of February 23 or March 1. Invite your family and friends to bring their ballots and join you to vote in person. Discuss the candidates and cast your ballots.

Help those who find the double envelopes confusing, and check and make sure everyone signs their ballots! Then, you might offer to deliver the ballots of those who don’t trust the mail, or who don’t want to drive to a ballot box. Show your family how to check their ballot status online to make sure they know how to do it.

Nancy Churchill is the state committeewoman for the Ferry County Republican Party. She may be reached at DangerousRhetoric@pm.me. The opinions expressed in Dangerous Rhetoric are her own.

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