We asked you how voting was different this year. So many of you responded and told us about voting early — and for the most part, things seem to be going smoothly!
Bianca Esquivel, Mission, Texas:
Voting this year felt quieter, daunting and much more isolated. I waited in line for about 15 minutes. Blue X’s on the floor were taped six feet apart to mark where each voter stood, and masks were required, of course. When I approached the volunteer, she asked me to place my ID card in a basket. Once she verified my voter information, another volunteer handed me what looked like an extra-long Q-tip and explained that I needed to use the Q-tip to press on the screen. There was absolutely zero human contact from the moment I walked in the building to the moment I walked out. I was relieved!
Flip Wood, Seattle:
I live in Seattle, where all elections are conducted by mail. I filled in my ballot the afternoon it showed up in my mailbox, then walked it — through a beautiful, sun-and-shower Pacific Northwest fall afternoon — to the closest official ballot box and dropped it in. I was taking no chances with the U.S.P.S. and I saw many others walk or drive up to that ballot box in the short time I was there.
Another big difference this year? I’ve been far more vocal — especially with friends and family in Texas — urging the necessity of voting. And doing so safely, securely and as early as possible.
George Chave, Fort Worth:
My wife and I usually take advantage of early voting. It is normally a “walk right in, walk right out” affair with minimal lines and minimal fuss. This year, we pulled into the courthouse parking lot and looked at the line. While there were quite a few cars in the parking lot, the line didn’t look too bad. We walked to what we assumed was going to be the end of the line, then realized the line continued around the side of the building — then around the other side of the building!
Voting in Texas (especially if you are a Democrat) has seemed rather pointless for the past 30 years, at least when it comes to presidential choices and senatorial choices. Representatives and local politics are somewhat less predictable, and so we remain motivated to participate. However, this year just has a different “feel” to it. Ironically, with one of the least inspiring Democratic candidates at the top of the ticket, there is almost a palpable excitement at the polls.
Margo Hebald, San Diego:
My husband and I voted with a mail-in ballot that was electronically followed from the moment it was sent to us, and at each step until it was received by the registrar’s office; and at each step we received a tracking notice of where it was. It was marvelous! This method of mail-in ballot tracking should be mandatory everywhere, with every registered voter automatically receiving a ballot by mail.
Katlynn Scammon, Pittsburgh:
I voted by mail for the first time this year, and as a voter who has participated in elections in South Carolina, North Carolina and now Pennsylvania, I am a big fan of the option and will likely always vote this way in the future. It’s easy and doesn’t take me away from work to wait in long lines to vote in person.
Russell W. Cantrell, Mobile, Ala.:
Like many others, I voted absentee for the first time. But the biggest difference for me was my first vote along party lines. I’ve always argued against this, wishing people would instead vote for the better candidate in each race regardless of political affiliation. This year, I marked that “straight ticket” bubble I had so often mocked others for blindly filling. The current version of the Republican Party needs the strongest rebuke I can offer.
Debbie Krygeris, Prospect Heights, Ill.:
My husband and I requested mail-in ballots for the first time ever this year because of the virus. When the Postal Service fiasco started hitting the news, we decided we would drop them in a ballot box versus mailing them.
What really surprised us both was that when we went to drop our ballots in the ballot box, it was manned by an election volunteer who was checking that we signed our envelope and that we were dropping in our own ballot. My husband and I were both impressed with the security of our voting experience this year.
Mary Beth Patten, Florence, Mont.:
We voted by absentee ballot this year, as we always do. The difference this year is that we took our ballots to a drop box, rather than mailing them. That gave us an added sense of security. It is also worth noting that both my husband and I expressed how very glad we were to have voted, and how grateful we are that we are afforded that privilege. Although I have similar feelings every time I vote, they were magnified this year.
Compiled by Isabella Grullón Paz. Responses were condensed and edited.