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This year we have ‘Election Season,’ not Election Day

Vote in a political campaign concept with a graphic element icon of voting as a jigsaw puzzle that is complete representing democratic elections organisation and campaigning for government positions of power between conservatives and liberals.

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With November 3 on the horizon, there is unprecedented engagement both nationally and in Arizona this election. Across the country, we’ve reached 130% of the early vote from 2016. Early ballot returns in our state are breaking records. Despite a deadly pandemic, Arizonans are committed and motivated to vote and we know we have a key role to play in this election.

Yet this remarkable enthusiasm among voters has not deterred President Trump from continuing to spread disinformation and baseless claims about voter fraud, election rigging, and general corruption. With less than a week until Election Day, Trump is doubling down and we can only expect it to continue.

But I have every belief that our communities will fight against these attempts to thwart democracy and undermine our electoral system. And I want to let you know that I plan to do everything I can to protect our democracy and ensure that your voices are heard.

The first step for everyone in safeguarding our democracy this election is simple — vote. Make a plan to vote safely if you have not already done so. Encourage your family, friends, and neighbors that haven’t already voted to vote safely in person. Our democracy works best when we all participate.

The next step is to trust ourselves and reject the lies being peddled this election season to make us lose faith in our democracy. We need to be patient and reject disinformation as we wait for our ballots to be tallied. Our electoral process is run by committed public servants who want to make sure your vote is counted accurately and efficiently. This year, like every year, we will have Arizonans counting the ballots of other Arizonans. Our community members who work the polls are not trying to rig this election, they are going to be hard at work — as am I — to make sure that your voice is heard.

Raquel Terán

Raquel Terán

Finally, be prepared to wait. Elections are no longer “game days.” Instead, we are facing an “Election Season.” While past presidential elections may have provided immediate results, this year will almost certainly require days, if not weeks, to tabulate the extraordinary number of mail-in ballots that will be cast all over the country. In some states, those remaining ballots may not make a difference. But, in others, the race may be too close on November 3 to know who won the popular vote in that state.

A delay in electoral outcomes this year is entirely expected and entirely innocuous. Any attempts to paint this expected period of tabulating as “corrupt” or “rigged” or simply unlawful would be baseless and should be dismissed outright. Mail-in ballots and in-person voting both accomplish the same goal of making your voice heard. If Trump claims that he has won on November 3 or claims that mail-in ballots are fraudulent, do not believe him. Misinformation and lies are all tactics aimed at maintaining his own power rather than respecting the power of voters.

This year, counting and verifying an unprecedented number of early ballots will take longer than ever before, and we’ve never had an official count on November 3. Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and Senator Kyrsten Sinema can both tell you that. Given the pandemic, more people than ever have requested a mail-in ballot. Before mail-in ballots can be counted they must be opened, signature verified, and physically prepared for processing. Our voters also have until November 10 to cure mistakes in their provisional or mail-in ballots. Given all this, any lead Trump might boast on election night nationally or in any state is a red mirage.

Nothing about this year has been predictable or ordinary. But Americans are resilient and Arizonans particularly so. Pulling off the most important election of our lives in the midst of a global pandemic has been challenging, and the biggest threat still looms ahead. These next few weeks will test the strength of our democracy. Remember: vote, reject false claims of victory, be patient, and stay safe. There are better days ahead. I will fight right alongside you to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard this election season and for a better tomorrow for us all.

Rep. Raquel Terán is a Phoenix Democrat who represents Legislative District 30. She is unopposed in the November 3 election.

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