Essential reporting in volatile times.

Click here to stay informed and subscribe to The Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Click #isupportlocal for more information on supporting our local journalists.

Learn more about HD Media

It’s vital that every West Virginian who hasn’t mailed in an absentee ballot gets out to the polls today and votes. If you still have an absentee ballot, it might be better at this stage to turn it over in person, rather than sticking it in the mail.

When you go out, be cautious. Protect yourself and be respectful of the rights of others. The COVID-19 pandemic is getting steadily worse in West Virginia. Wear a mask, wash your hands and give everyone space. As we’ve said so many times, voting is one of the most fundamental principles of American democracy. If you don’t use it, you’re not participating.

We also urge everyone voting to be patient on two fronts. Lines might be long, but stick it out. Also, with so many mail-in ballots utilized, not just here but across the country as a result of the pandemic, West Virginians might not know who the president is when they wake up on Nov. 4. Or the day after that.

Stay calm, stay respectful. If the results take a while to tabulate, there will be all kinds of screeching from politicians and cable news pundits about what should happen and who should be declared the winner before all the votes are actually counted. Tune it out, as best as you can. Don’t let that be the reason you lose your temper on a neighbor of differing political views.

Don’t forget, many of you have been here before.

It was 20 years ago when it took 36 days to declare George W. Bush president of the United States over Al Gore. Sure, the average attention span has been shortened greatly and political polarization and rancor have amped up tenfold since then, but, given the limitations brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s going to take as long as it takes. Everyone needs to recognize that.

So make sure you vote, then dip into whatever reservoir of patience you’ve got. If waiting a few days for the results of an election is the worst thing that happens in the small window of time left in 2020, that’s a win for everybody.