Friday, November 27, 2020

Vote smart as virus hits harder

| October 23, 2020 1:00 AM

During his inauguration on March 4, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke words we should all remember and embrace now.

“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is … fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance,” he said.

There are some key words beyond “fear” in Roosevelt’s admonition, “unreasoning” and “unjustified” at the top of the list. We must recognize real threats and face them with courage and rational thinking, the former president is telling us yet today. That which paralyzes us must be overcome.

This applies now as our elections office deals with COVID-19. County Clerk Jim Brannon, who oversees local elections, has asked voters to go about their business with confidence in the wake of at least one positive test this week among elections office employees. Working closely with Chad Houck from the Secretary of State’s office, Brannon said safety protocols from the state as well as Panhandle Health District are being rigorously followed. That includes top to bottom sanitizing at the elections office.

The county is doing its utmost to adhere to a state law requiring two full weeks of early voting access. Unless notified otherwise, in-person early voting is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at the elections office, 1808 N. Third St. in Coeur d’Alene. Brannon, Houck and the rest of the team is doing all they can to ensure that the virus won't interfere with the election process.

By now everyone is aware that our community is surging with COVID-19, seeing its highest numbers since the pandemic arrived. Our regional hospitals are near or at capacity. Anyone still in denial about the severity of this illness can only hope he or she doesn’t get sick enough to require hospitalization. When the inn is full, they might have to go all the way to Portland or Seattle for care.

While our community’s highly skilled, highly motivated medical professionals do their best under far less than ideal conditions, voters need to do their best, as well. The safest thing you can do is mail in your absentee ballot if you haven’t already done so. You can also drop it off in the secure box at the elections office.

Feel free to vote early — but wear a mask and stay 6 feet away from others.

If you’re determined to vote at the polls on Election Day, just know that there are hundreds of volunteers and a group of elections employees who will do their all to help you. Help them by masking and distancing, and if you feel sick, please stay home. Voting is a civic right and responsibility. So is protecting each other.