What is your voting plan for Aug. 18? If it’s vote-by-mail, ask for your ballot NOW.

My School Board election is part of the August 18 primary election. Key dates include:

Small turnout means every votes counts even more

The Aug. 18 primary ballot contains no big-name state or national elections, such as president, governor, senator. Moreover, the COVID spread outlook continues to worsen.

So turnout is likely to be smaller than a normal election; and every vote will matter more. Informed, motivated, passionate voters can all make the difference. In fact, I’m counting on it. Advocates for good government, for human-centered public education and for teachers embody “informed, motivated, passionate.”

Ask NOW for a mail-in ballot, if that’s your plan

But we also need to embody prepared.

This year, of all years, voters need to have a plan for voting, especially if the thought of voting in-person concerns you for COVID reasons. Here are some key considerations to help:

If you’re planning to vote by mail, ask for that ballot NOW. Here’s the link to the Polk Supervisor of Elections Office portal that allows you to do that.

It’s important to request that ballot now because a higher percentage of people are likely to ask for mail-in ballots; and the US Post Office is suffering under financial and capacity strain. Make sure you give time for everyone to process your request.

The deadline for requesting is August 8, 10 days before Election Day. But if you wait that long, I would not assume that you will receive a ballot in time to vote and mail it back.

Cast your ballots and mail them back AS SOON AS YOU GET THEM

Again, given the complexities of this election and the Postal Service, don’t wait to fill out the ballot and send it back when you get it. Knock this part out; and then call your friends and nag them to do the same.

Vote in-person early if mail-in efforts hit a snag

If you haven’t received or mailed back your absentee/mail-in ballot by the start of early voting, I’d recommend that you go ahead and vote in-person. Take the guesswork out. Early voting locations are open August 3-15, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Here’s the link again. In this primary, early voting sites will likely be nearly empty when you vote. It’s probably safer than Election Day in a COVID sense, although Election Day.

Again, there are many ways to vote and be safe. But it’s important to think about it now. Voting starts sooner than you may realize.