Editorial: Advance vote for safety of you, others

The Editorial Advisory Board
Topeka Capital-Journal

With Kansas primary elections approaching, we’d like to encourage all of the registered voters out there to take one simple step.

Sign up for advance voting.

Kansas law allows anyone to cast a ballot through the mail for any reason. All you have to do is fill out an application and include your driver’s license number or copy of another photo ID. Tuesday, July 28, is the deadline to apply for this year’s primary, and Oct. 27 is the deadline to apply for the general election. You can learn more at the Kansas secretary of state’s website or at ksvotes.org.

Here’s why. The spread of COVID-19 is exacerbated by three factors. First, how close you are to other people, who could potentially be infected. The average polling place will see many people come in and out, and social distancing will be challenging.

Second, the kind of space you occupy, with outdoor spaces being lower-risk than indoor ones. Polling places will be indoors.

Finally, the duration of time you spend in a place where others could potentially be infected. Most voters will only be at a polling place for a short time, but that’s not necessarily true for poll workers, who are often older and at higher risk.

Put simply, if you can avoid voting in person there is absolutely no reason to do so.

We understand that President Trump has denigrated mail-in ballots, but his complaints on the subject are fact-free. There is no evidence that mail-in ballots have ever caused the kind of problems the president describes, and multiple layers of security have been integrated into the process. Many states, including Kansas, have allowed for widespread mail voting for years. (For that matter, Trump has himself voted by mail.)

As has become sadly usual during these times, we have to step back and make the best choices we can, without clear national advice. But this shouldn’t be a difficult one to figure out; mail voting allows us to make our voice heard without putting ourselves or others at risk.

We know that Kansans and Americans in general will be motivated to vote this year. The same global pandemic that makes voting difficult has shown just how important good public policy is, and how important competent public servants are.

But take care of yourself and your families. Register to vote by mail.