October 2020. Did you ever think we would be immersed in an important presidential election while smothered in a pandemic, lingering behind closed doors, not working, social distancing, wearing masks and washing our hands like never before?  And then they came up with a plan to let us stay home and vote by mail – early, and later, too.

Everyone knows this is a critical election, a game-changing one fraught with hurdles. Indeed, the pandemic has resulted in a national alteration in the way we live, work and vote. At this writing, more than 50 million people have cast their ballots — into a mailbox. All this while President Donald Trump and Joe Biden are plugging away for votes. And raising issues, but more on that later.

This is a presidential election that could affect the nation for years, if we listen closely. We have seen the polarization that mostly centers on Donald Trump’s persona, not his policies or accomplishments. And it has been bubbling for a few years, coming to a head in the months leading up to the upcoming ekection, fueled by the politicized riots and pandemic.

But it’s not only about Trump-Biden, others are running for office. We usually refer to them as “down ballot” candidates: Members of Congress, state government offices (not governor) and state representatives.  Look for their names. They’re campaigning for your vote, well aware millions have voted. Still, the candidates are looking to win the support of people, like me, who are planning to vote on Nov. 3. In our Bucks County district, incumbent Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick is challenged by a Democrat newcomer and challenges face both Democrat and Republican incombents for state office. The presidential race likely will impact the down ballot, but should it? Probably not, we are impacted at home, in the neighborhood, by the congressman, and our state reps.

I am hesitant to say all will be well, because of this massive mail-in system. But it should be reassuring to know there are many professionals and volunteers working hard to make sure your vote is counted. I know about Bucks County’s diligence and they seem to have this under control; however, there is legitimate cause for concern.

If you haven’t voted by mail, you can go to your usual polling place on Nov.3, read the names of everyone on the ballot — and vote.