"The 2020 Election is Unprecedented: Here’s What We Can Do To Prepare for It"

By: Ryeshia Farmer, Rights for All Organizer

This election season is like none other we’ve seen in American history. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to change the way we vote, with record numbers of absentee ballots being cast in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The shift in how we vote isn’t the only element that makes this election distinctly different from those of the past. In fact, much of what makes 2020 unique may not factor in until Election Day and thereafter.

Understanding the unprecedented nature of this election — and considering that all eyes will be fixated on what happens in Wisconsin and throughout the nation — we want voters to be as ready as they can for what they might see on November 3rd. Here’s what you should expect:

Not all the votes will be counted by Election Day — and that’s actually a good thing.

We’re all accustomed to waiting for the final vote tallies to come in on Election Night, but that likely won’t be the case this time around. Because of widespread absentee voting, it will take more time to count the votes and determine which candidates have won. Different states have different rules governing how and when absentee ballots can be counted. In Wisconsin, county clerks can’t start counting votes until 7 a.m. on Election Day, and ballots that are postmarked and received by November 3rd will still be valid. All of this means that it could take a while before we get verified results.

The most important message that we want to convey to voters is to stay steady. In a democracy, it is imperative that each and every vote is counted -- even if the process takes longer than usual to do so. We can’t accept anything less than that, so we must welcome the wait, not fret over it.

As we brace ourselves for the election, we need to remember to stick to our voting plan.

All the moving parts in this election can make it confusing and hard to follow. That’s why we’re encouraging everyone to make a voting plan and start executing it now. Decide how you feel most comfortable voting — whether by mail, voting early, or in-person on Election Day — and then start taking steps now to make it happen. Things you can do immediately include making sure you’re registered, requesting and returning your absentee ballot (as soon as possible) and finding out where you can vote early or where your polling place is on November 3rd. 

As people continue to have questions, and have further concerns about Election Day results — or anything related to their ballots being counted accurately and securely — they should reach out to their Municipal Clerk, Wisconsin Election Protection and the ACLU of Wisconsin. 

We are committed to making sure that everyone can make their voices heard and exercise their right to vote.