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MARTHA SEZ: ‘I am not afraid of encountering voter intimidation’

As I begin this column early on election day, Nov. 3, 2020, I find myself in much the same position as I did four years ago. I refer to the column “Martha Sez 11/10/16” here: “It is the Monday before election day. By the time you see this, the presidential election will be over; you, the reader, already know the election results. I, Martha Allen, on November 7, 2016, do not.

“One good thing is that you will no longer hear certain words and phrases that have insidiously become part of our national vocabulary during the long, drawn-out campaign.

“Pivot. I am so sick of this word. Please please stop using it, except maybe as a basketball term, now that the election is over.”

It is 2020, and people have stopped breathlessly waiting for Donald Trump to pivot toward acting “presidential.” Now that he is nearing the end of his first term it does seem a little late. Or maybe, after four years, the definition of the word “presidential” has changed.

People have also pretty much stopped saying “Give him a chance,” and “Let Trump be Trump,” exhortations we used to hear on a daily basis. Clearly, he was given multiple chances, and there proved to be no way to keep him from being Trump. I mean, it was never as if he was going to pivot.

Some things have changed. We all know that the president has been highly critical of the United States Postal Service in recent months, cutting funding while warning that the USPS is a vehicle for fraud. Trump has made it clear that he particularly opposes mail-in ballots. I had forgotten, until I looked at a column from 2017, that he was, for a while, cautioning the public against using the Internet, not the USPS, to send private messages: “Perhaps President-Elect Donald J. Trump said it best when he warned recently ‘If you have something really important, write it out and have it delivered by courier, the old-fashioned way. I’ll tell you what: No computer is safe. I don’t care what they say. So we have to get very, very tough on cyber and cyber warfare. It is-it is a huge problem.'”

Unfortunately, not everyone has access to a courier.

Jim, my son-in-law, was once a courier in Boston. He drove important papers and packages around the city and delivered them to the appropriate parties in a timely and appropriate manner.

It is naturally more difficult to find a professional courier in a small town. Here in Keene Valley, an entrepreneurial and reliable little boy named Rory had his own business making deliveries with his bicycle and wagon for a quarter a run, but Rory eventually grew up and went on to other things.

Of course neither Jim nor Rory read any of the messages entrusted to their care. How easy is it, though, to find a reliable courier? Would Hillary Clinton and her staff have been safer relaying hand-written messages back and forth by courier instead of using an email server, private or otherwise?

According to Jim, “I guess, just like the Post Office, your message is only as safe and honest as the person who is carrying your mail. Best not to hire the Russians to be safe.”

Despite the president’s recent warnings against mail-in ballots and discouragement of early voting, the United States has seen a record number of early ballots filed. This is a highly charged election.

I have spoken with both Democrats and Republicans who fear post-election-day controversy, and even violence, from the opposition.

While I’ve seen self-appointed gun-toting “poll protectors,” and even the leader of a volunteer poll-patrolling militia, interviewed on television, I am not afraid of encountering voter intimidation when I vote today at the Keene Valley Firehall. Voting in the town of Keene is a pleasant experience. I know the poll workers, and I’ve never had to wait in line. I’ll walk over soon through the gusting snow, and I expect that’s the worst I’ll have to contend with. Later, I’ll go to a friend’s house to watch the returns come in on TV. It may be a late night.

So, as I say, you, the reader, know more than I do as I write this, although possibly the election results will still not be clear when the paper comes out, or even for some time afterward.

As President Trump likes to say, “We’ll see what happens.” Have a good week.

(Martha Allen lives in Keene Valley. She has been writing for the Lake Placid News for more than 20 years.)