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I am making plans for a triple decker BLT with Dave’s Killer Bread.

In the kitchen with me is Assistant Chef, and toy poodle in residence, Amber. She intently watches my every move, not to scold me if I make a mistake — like too little mayo, but to monitor for any food droppings.

“Bacon is bad for you,” I tell her. I can see she doesn’t believe me.

As it turns out with the thin-sliced bread, I’ll need four pieces.

“You won’t like tomatoes,” I say. Turns out I am wrong about that too.

While I munch on my crunchy sandwich—with potato chips inside it, I am thinking about how I can help with voting in the upcoming election.

Voting has become a worrisome concern. While there has been little evidence of fraud found with mail in ballots, this necessary tool during a pandemic has been demonized.

The number of steps to mail in a ballot is a challenge. I had to double check I did mine correctly during the primary.

Under new, destructive leadership, the USPS has been actively setting up ways to delay the mail, so mailed ballots may be too late to be counted. Any reasonable person would say delay dates when ballots need to be counted, but some states are denying this rational solution.

Strategies of suppression and voter disenfranchisement, from reduced early voting days to voter list purging, are reported. Cases about gerrymandering, setting political boundaries to favor a political party, have occurred in twelve states. In low income and black and brown communities, the number of available polling places have been reduced in 15 states, creating longer lines and excluding voters. These actions are results of gutting the Voting Rights Act seven years ago.

The maximum time someone should wait in line to vote is 30 minutes according to a 2014 federal report. Among the states in 2016, Vermont waited the least–less than 19 minutes. In 2016 and 2018, Florida, Texas, Wisconsin and Georgia documented long waits; some waited eight hours to vote.

Floridians voted to give 1.4 million felons who have served their terms the right to vote, but far fewer will actually get to vote. Their legislature voted to make them pay all fines before they can participate. However, information on fines is missing, incomplete or contradictory. How can one pay when no one knows what is owed? How is this not a poll tax?

A variety of groups (Indivisible, MomsRising, Vote Forward) have been soliciting assistance to turn out the vote. Strategies include sending personal postcards and letters, texting and phonebanks.

Weeks ago, I sent in 100 postcards for the MomsRising Group to people in targeted states who are occasional voters. The goal is energize voters to make the effort. I added a message to pre-addressed postcards, inviting voters to participate and reminding them of the date.

The writing guide said political statements for either party were to be avoided as that would turn off voters. For letter writing, volunteers printed out letters and discussed what personal message to add to their letters during a Zoom meeting.

Volunteers who do phone banking get virtual training. Using a computer and phone, a volunteer contacts the named people. After asking if the contacted person is willing to talk about the upcoming election and determining their position, an appropriate script is shown. I was surprised that people were responsive and eager to discuss politics.

As I finish my sandwich, looking directly at Amber and poodle No. 2, Angie, I think aloud, “There should be a law about dogs not being allowed to watch me when I am eating.” They look dismayed.

Like our country, our household is divided — two poodles and me. Maybe I shouldn’t be so domineering. Just because I have the power to control a behavior I don’t agree with doesn’t mean I should.

Like my poodles, the American people deserve to have their voices be heard. I am incensed that average Americans may not have their ballots counted because of inflexible deadlines, interminable lines, or daunting voter registration rules.

Currently a powerful minority is attempting to control our election and jeopardize majority rule. The principle of majority rule is on the ballot in our country and in my home. I hope it wins.

Roberta Devlin-Scherer has a doctorate from Temple University and was a professor at Seton Hall University for 20 years. She has written books, articles and poetry. She lives in Sunderland.


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