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1,000 miles to vote


November 5, 2020

Election 2020 has surrounded itself with a sense of urgency for many Americans. Just how much agony would an individual go through to vote? Former Sanders County resident Logan Naegeli did what many would not to exercise his right to cast a ballot – drive over 1,000 miles while remaining in quarantine.

After serving in the Peace Corps, Naegeli returned to his parents’ Beaver Creek ranch awaiting his next journey in life. As it would be, Naegeli relocated to Salem, Oregon, creating a mailing nightmare for Naegeli’s absentee ballot.

“I’ve recently had the unfortunate opportunity to learn that Montana, or at least Sanders County, sends all the absentee ballots at the same time,” commented Naegeli. “This includes in-state and out-of-state. This also means that if there is a mistake, or something is overlooked, there’s not a lot of time to fix it.”

In Naegeli’s case, an error on his address change form posed a big problem for the mailing system. “My ballot got bounced back and I didn’t know it until late last week,” he continued with anguish. “And my second ballot probably bounced back too,” he said, realizing good fortune was not on his side, “If I was ‘really’ lucky, the express mail would have arrived Saturday. But it did not, which means even if I received my ballot today (Monday) and paid for overnight mail, it would almost certainly not make it back by 8 p.m. on November 3.”

Given the circumstance he was delivered, Naegeli did what any diehard American would do…opt to vote in person. Even if it meant leaving Oregon Monday morning, driving 550 miles to Sanders County to vote early Tuesday morning and immediately hop back into the car and return, driving another 550 miles west, Naegeli would not pass on the opportunity to make his voice heard.

But that was not his only challenge – Naegeli has been in quarantine for COVID-19 reasons.

“Since I didn’t get a mail ballot, and I’m already in quarantine and not at work, I get to make a 10-hour drive,” shared Naegeli, with lack of enthusiasm Monday morning, “and hope that the elections office will clean everything off. And then make a 10-hour drive back – on Election Day. At a time when things are tense, and people aren’t making the best choices.”

As of Monday, Naegeli had one more day to remain in quarantine, meaning he could not stay at his parents’, Bill and Sarah Naegeli, home that night, risking them exposure. According to Sarah, she contacted a friend who owns a vacant cabin. Thankfully, they offered for Logan to stay overnight.

On Tuesday morning, Logan was released from isolation and at 7 a.m., he voted.


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