The 2020 Election Season and the COVID Factor

    icon Oct 08, 2020
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Voting in the year 2020 elections has become a rugged endeavor. It has a decidedly Americana feel to it. Not only has the importance of exercising the right to vote become more apparent, the manner in which you cast your vote is in the spotlight as well. Will you bravely strap on your mask and endure the line at the school gymnasium for the privilege of filling out your ballot at the standing desk and dropping it in the box in person? 

Or perhaps you have already mailed in your absentee ballot, placing faith in the U.S. Post Office to properly deliver your absentee ballot in time to be counted. Maybe you are on the fence, still undecided as to how, when, or for whom you will vote.  

In any event, the American public seems poised to raise its collective voice to a decibel never captured through the voting process, at least in my lifetime. With the exception of 2016, I’ve voted in every Presidential Election since 1988. 

The climate of this election season has embraced a Science v. Liberty tone, with both sides digging in for a fight to the death. Calling into question the results before a single vote has been counted, one side in particular has made its position clear: Cast doubt on the entire process, thereby calling into question whether ANY vote tally will be legitimate, given the myriad problems of the current system. 

But voting is a staple of democracy, a lynchpin of the identity of America -- the land where every person is equal in the voting booth. The challenges of dealing with a global pandemic while processing contradictory messaging from various sources adds an intensity that suggests 2020 Hindsight will be a popular topic for years to come as historians consider the forces that aligned to put us where we find ourselves today.

From the national race to the state contests on down to the local candidates and measures on the ballot in counties across mid-Michigan, apathy is in short supply, at least if you have your finger on the pulse of social media. 

If you are registered to vote and have received your ballot in the mail but are undecided whether you will mail it in before Election Day, deliver it on Election Day to the location specified on the envelope, or go in person to the polls and vote on Nov. 3, you are free to do any ONE of those things. As long as you don’t do more than one, democracy will live to see another day. (Seriously, though, it’s a felony to vote multiple times. Resist the temptation to test the system or to “double down.” Vote just once, before 8pm on Nov. 3.)

Bay County residents will be voting for a U.S. Senator, a Congressional Representative in the 5th District, a Representative in the State Legislature for the 96th District, as well as various state boards, county positions, judicial posts, and board trustees. Add to that the various proposals on the ballot this season having to do with millages and educational funds, and there is plenty of reason to cast a ballot in 2020, even if you have a hard time deciding between the Republican and Democratic candidates for President of the United States.

For the U.S. Senate, incumbent Gary Peters, a Democrat, is being challenged by Republican John James, who has mounted an aggressive ad campaign touting his distinguished military service and obstacle course proficiency while having the testicular temerity to run an ad accusing Peters, who sits on the Senate COVID-19 response team, of minimizing the threat of the virus in early 2020. Not sure that’s a compelling argument to make when your side was making the argument that the virus would “just disappear.” But James is in lock step with the Oval Office, praising the job Betsy DeVos has done as Education Secretary, another move that seems to defy logic, as DeVos is an undoubtedly polarizing figure for Michiganders. The fact that Peters has been a vocal defender of the Great Lakes in the face of the current administration’s environmental budget cuts is a solid advantage for blue (skies and waters).

Democrat Dan Kildee is being challenged  for his seat in U.S. Congress by Tim Kelly (R), James Harris (Libertarian), and Kathy Goodwin (Working Class). Kildee, a Flint native, has served the region well, and is an engaged presence on the national political scene without seeming like an opportunist.

In the 96th District, Rep. Brian K. Elder (D), is being challenged for his seat by Timothy (Timmy) Beson (R).

While yard signs on display throughout Bay County suggest a fairly balanced electorate in terms of Blue v. Red allegiance, the comical posturing of the occasional “No More Bullshit” and “Make Liberals Cry Again” flags billowing in the breeze in front of residences from the South End to Bangor Township suggests an undercurrent of volatility that may turn on itself.

As it stands, Democratic candidates are running unopposed in six contests. Barring an unprecedented write-in campaign, Prosecuting Attorney Nancy E. Borushko, Sheriff Troy R. Cunningham, County Clerk Cynthia A. Luczak, Treasurer Shawna Walraven, Register of Deeds Brandon Krause, Road Commissioner Bill Jordan, and Kaysey Owczarzak Radtke are assured of winning their posts. 

Going off to vote on Election Day has morphed from a duty to a potential hazard. What if, when driving to your polling facility, you glimpse a band of haughty, vainglorious lads who are casually standing back while standing down in the parking lot of your polling place? Is mace or pepper spray now required to safely reach the entrance of the voting booth? (Another tongue-in-cheek remark. Please don’t bring weapons to your polling place.)

Now that the Commander in Chief is the latest high-profile poster child for a disease that has killed more than 211,975 Americans as of this writing, how this will all play out remains to be seen. Does he beat the disease and use this as a springboard to declare his omnipotence and coast to a second term? Or does the American public get to witness its President campaigning from Walter Reed Hospital, on a ventilator, touting his hands-on immersion in solving the COVID problem from the inside while the American public puzzles over whether 2020 is all just a big hoax that will reset on January 20, 2021.


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