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  • Cedar Koons, LCSW

Vigilant Against the Darkness


For this blog I have been determined to focus on the light—on that which is loving, hopeful and positive, because I’ve felt that was what people needed most, especially now. Occasionally, however, I’ve felt I needed to call attention to the power of the darkness and the need to be vigilant against it. One such time was when the American government decided to separate children from their asylum-seeking families at our southern border while making no provision to keep them safe or reunite them later. This policy continues to cause unspeakable suffering and damage for thousands of families. The only way we have a hope to change this policy is to vote out the administration who perpetrated it. Now is another such time. There is a threat on our very doorstep that this pandemic could be used by unscrupulous people to interfere with free and fair elections in 2020.

The right to vote, enshrined in our Constitution and in the 14th, 15th and 19th amendments, has always been limited by powerful elites. The recent onslaught, since the Supreme Court overturned of parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, has been brutal. To read about the history of voter suppression, here are two good articles.

https://www.nytimes.com/search?query=150+Years+of+Suppression

https://www.nytimes.com/column/jamelle-bouie Voter participation has been reduced and made more difficult by countless actions of partisans to restrict access, such as reducing the number of polling places and early voting, purging voter rolls and requiring specific identifications which many elderly, poor and minorities don’t have.

But I am talking about a specific risk related to the pandemic. Consider the following two facts and the impact they could have on an in-person election on the second Tuesday in November: 1) we will not have a vaccine by November; 2) we could have a resurgence of the virus in the fall, as happened in the 1918 influenza epidemic. These two factors could make in-person voting very dangerous, especially in cities. What is the alternative? The date of the presidential election is written into the US Constitution. Only if we begin to mobilize now can we establish mail in voting for every state in the US before November.

Why would anyone be opposed to mail-in voting? They may believe, as President Trump has said, that when people vote by mail Republicans are not elected. Or, perhaps they believe, in the absence of evidence, that it will lead to massive voter fraud. Mail in voting is used extensively in Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Utah and Hawaii. Twenty-one other states have significant vote by mail options. Since the pandemic we are seeing a fight shaping up about access to voting by mail. And after the recent election in Wisconsin (read about it here) https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/07/us/politics/wisconsin-primary-election.html?searchResultPosition=2 no one should doubt that extremists in power will do anything to preserve their positions, including making it harder for you to vote during a pandemic. So I am recommending to everyone reading this blog that contact your elected representatives in your state to express your concerns about our protecting our 2020 election and also contact your state’s secretary of state to find out how to obtain an absentee ballot. Don’t delay. No one should have to risk their lives to vote in our country. Remember, we even voted in 1864, in the middle of the Civil War!

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