Think tank panel urges media to calm voters’ fears

    (Photo: iStock / Getty Images Plus)
    (Photo: iStock / Getty Images Plus)

    Voting-rights advocates are asking the media to settle absentee-voting fears in order to prepare voters for possible delays on Election Day. 

    Data collected by the voting-advocacy group Voting Rights Lab found that an overwhelming majority of people expect glitches in the 2020 cycle.

    “They already expressed a lack of faith in the final results,” said Charley Olena, associate director of campaigns and partnerships at Voting Rights Lab. Olena spoke during a Tuesday seminar on voting during the pandemic hosted by the nonpartisan think tank Think Tennessee.

    This is partially due to the COVID-19 pandemic but also “due to anxieties over partisan interference,” said Olena.

    Final election results may be delayed due to absentee votes being processed, Olena said early vote estimates will be available on Election Day from voting-advocacy groups and states that already counted absentee and early votes. 

    Voting procedures haven’t changed, just don’t leave anything to chance, according to Tammy Patrick, senior advisor at the Democracy Fund and former Arizona county election official.

    Absentee votes can be rejected for a number of reasons, such as signatures that don’t match, so advocates are asking voters to turn in their ballots well before the Oct. 27 deadline in order to correct any issues. 

    Mail volume is not a problem, said Patrick. The challenge is the timeline. 

    “We never know what’s going to happen around election time. Just make sure you’re giving yourself plenty of time to make sure you get into this very important election,” she said. Patrick advised voters to research their polling locations as not all may be open if there is a shortage of poll officials. 

    Many states have increased federal funding to support the election administration. 

    “Even though we are voting in a pandemic, our democratic system works and we can trust our system to give us accurate results that we can believe in,” said Olena.