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Nov 2, 2020

Amid uncertainty as ballots are counted, we have a duty to be civil to each other | Opinion

We are all proud representatives of organizations that reflect a diverse and pluralistic MiamiDade community and support the crucial role an engaged citizenry plays in ensuring our nation’s thriving democracy. As such, against a backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and recent protests in our streets, we must together commit to words and deeds that reflect a collective commitment to democratic values of mutual respect and civility, as we address and overcome the deep divisiveness and anxiety that have surfaced during this election season.

It should be understood that it is quite possible that we will not have a clear victor as president on Election Day itself, or even in the days or weeks to follow. Extended counting is not a stain on democracy or reflective of problematic activity, but rather a sign that the democratic process of tabulating all votes before declaring a winner is working appropriately and as usual.

Therefore, we call upon news analysts, social-media influencers and everyone in a position of leadership — clergy, civic thought leaders, influential members in all political parties, local and county municipalities, state officials, Congress and the executive branch — to refrain from inflammatory language; to urge prolonged patience; and explicitly to discourage their followers and constituents from threatening or committing violence, ensuring votes are counted fairly and accurately.

We urge readers to make a plan to vote; it cannot be overstated how every vote counts. The victor in Florida in the 2000 presidential election was decided by a mere 537 votes out of almost 6 million ballots cast. Now more than ever, it is important to have our voices heard. Until early voting ends on Nov. 1, voters can go to one of more than 30 locations across the county to cast their ballot or drop it off in a secure drop box. On Nov. 2 and on Election Day, voters can also drop off their ballots in secure drop boxes at the Elections Department’s main office in Doral, North Dade Regional Library, Stephen P. Clark Center or South Dade Regional Library.

Displaying empathy and civility does not mean that citizens should avoid robust debate. Quite the opposite. Widespread, ongoing, respectful and courageous conversations about the most controversial issues affecting our election will elevate the tenor of public and political discourse.

Each of us has the power to do just that.

Tracey Spiegelman is chair of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. She wrote this on behalf of ADL Florida Region, AJC Miami and Broward County, Coalition of South Florida Muslim Organizations, Hadassah Greater Miami, MCCJ, Miami-Dade Community Relations Board, NAACP Miami-Dade, National Council of Jewish Women Miami and Kendall, Rabbinical Association of Greater Miami and United Way of Miami-Dade.

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