AUSTIN, Texas – Two months might seem like plenty of time, but to the League of Women Voters’ Grace Chimene, it’s crunch time.
“I was super excited about the election," she said. "The biggest thing that we’re gonna have to overcome was really encouraging everyone to vote.”
It's a task that would be feasible in any other election year, but 2020 threw a major curveball: a pandemic that has drawn concerns over voter turnout and the postal service’s role in the general election.
“The mail system has been slowed down. So, if you’re voting by mail, we want you to apply now," Chimene explained. "Everything that we used to take for granted that you could do at the last minute, go ahead and do it right now. Don’t wait.”
That sense of urgency was matched by a call for new poll workers.
“Before, [election officials] relied on people who are generally 70 and over, or 65 and over who were fantastic," Chimene said. "But because they’re impacted by COVID more, they really need to step back and let younger people who tolerate COVID more, who can be trained and are great with technology, and have time—hopefully—that they go ahead and sign up to be an election worker.”
Due to the pandemic, polling locations have also been limited.
“Some of the places that we had polling locations are not available right now: schools, nursing homes, community centers, those places may be closed down," Chimene stressed. "So, we’re encouraging businesses and churches to step up and contact their county election officials and say, ‘We have a place. Perhaps you’d want to use it as a polling place.’"
“We all have to work together because this is our democracy we’re talking about. If we want everybody to have access to voting, we want to make sure our democracy continues to work well," she added. "We have to work together to ensure that everybody has access to the ballot.”