This year’s election is unlike any other in our lifetime: a global pandemic during a presidential election is a unique challenge that state and federal officials have worked hard to navigate. In an unprecedented year, it’s only natural that we have an unprecedented election.
In Delaware, lawmakers expanded access to voting through no-excuse vote by mail for the first time, allowing voters to safely and securely cast their ballots without having to risk their safety at the polls. Across the nation, many other states also expanded access to the ballot, leaving more voters than ever before eligible to vote by mail in nearly all 50 states — and voters are using that option.
In the presidential primaries, Delaware saw nearly 16 times the amount of mail-in ballots than in any other presidential primary election. That trend is continuing both here at home and nationwide. With a surge of voting by mail, and many states unable to start counting mail-in ballots ahead of election night, we expect to see a delay in calling the presidential winner by days, possibly even weeks. And that’s ok. Accessibility and accuracy are far more important during a close election than immediate results.
WHAT IS THE ACLU DOING TO PREPARE FOR ELECTION DAY AND POST-ELECTION?
Nationally, the ACLU is poised and ready to take action wherever we’re needed on election day and in the days and weeks post-election. From monitoring rights violations at polling locations to filing emergency litigation, the National office and every affiliate is working tirelessly to ensure that every vote counts, whether it was cast by mail or in-person.
Here at home, the ACLU of Delaware has been working hard to help prepare you for election day by doing voter education, reaching out to Latinx voters, and filing litigation that attempted to extend the ballot return deadline.
On election day, we’ll be monitoring our intake in real-time. We encourage anyone who encounters a voting rights violation to call the national Election Protection Hotline 1-866-OUR-VOTE (687-8683) or submit an online claim with us, and we’ll review it right away.
Past the election, we’ll be waiting along with every Delawarean to receive the final results. In the event that media pundits, or even candidates themselves, try to declare victory earlier than official results are in, we’ll be here to remind them that announcing a winner too soon is not just likely to be inaccurate, it’s dangerous — and no matter what, we will fight to ensure that every vote counts.
WHAT CAN DELAWAREANS DO TO PREPARE?
At the Polls
With COVID-19 infections on the rise again, keeping in-person polling locations safe for those who need to be there is an important public health consideration. Delaware does not require face masks at polling locations, but Delawareans can do their part to keep the polls safe by wearing one at the polls anyway (if you need a mask, check out this one from ACLU). When voters are at polling locations, they should follow all social distancing guidelines where possible, and be sure to sanitize and wash their hands after they’ve cast their ballot.
If you witness any form of voter suppression, voter intimidation, or violence at the polls, call the Election Protection Hotline immediately: 1-866-OUR-VOTE (687-8683).
- Spanish: 888-839-8682
- Asian Languages: 888-174-8683
- Arabic: 844-418-1682
- American Sign Language (video call number): 301-818-8653
In case you encounter any other issues at the polling location, be sure to have your county’s Department of Elections contact info handy:
- New Castle County Office
Tracey Dixon, County Director: 302-354-0850
Howard Sholl, Deputy County Director: 302-897-7629
- Kent County Office
Doris Young, County Director: 302-382-6456
Ralph Artigliere, Deputy County Director: 302-270-1336
- Sussex County Office
Bo McDowell, County Director: 302-228-1010
Jean Turner, Deputy County Director: 302-745-8162
If You’re Voting by Mail
If you mailed in or dropped off your mail-in ballot, you can check the status of your ballot at iVote.DE.gov.
If you have not mailed your ballot yet, do not mail it in. Instead, go to your county’s ballot dropbox and return your ballot before 8 p.m. on election day, or head to the polls and vote in-person. If you vote in-person after requesting a vote by mail ballot, your unreturned mail-in ballot will be voided.
Take care of yourself and each other while we wait for the election results to come in. It has been an extremely difficult year for most people, so make a point of being kind to yourself and those around you, especially if we have a drawn-out wait for final results. Here’s a list of mental health and self-care resources that might come in handy:
- A list of anxiety relief apps reviewed by the Anxiety Disorders Association of America
- Tara Brach’s website for guided meditations
- 12 virtual tours of famous museums
- Swim with the turtles and other sea creatures at Monterey Bay Aquarium
The general election may look different this year, but fundamentally, it’s still the same: we cast our ballots, we wait while the democratic process works, and then, eventually, one candidate will be declared the winner. The process might take longer this year, and there are bound to be some bumps in the road, but arming yourself with information, making a plan to vote, and preparing for what might come in the days after the election will help see us through. And while we wait to get our election results, keep in mind: patience is a democratic virtue.