Saturday, November 01, 2008

Election Day's Daze

This Blog does not endorse candidates. That does not exclude commentary on the election process. It is already evident this election will break records for voter turnout. Before I get into anything else, kudos to Vona McKerley for getting the election office up to speed. It hasn't been that long ago this office was an international joke of how NOT to conduct an election, or God forbid, a recount. Karnak predicts that there will be a storm of ill-prepared voting districts nationwide next Tuesday and they will be part of the reason political junkies stay up all night, BUT... if anything, Tom Green County will stand out as having dealt with a record turnout well. We have already, more early voters than recent "hot" local elections had as total.

This is of interest to me because I will be one of the people processing voters this Tuesday. I have been doing this for 14 years, my precinct will have veteran workers, but elections are always short of help. The job does pay, but most clerks are taking a cut in pay to be there. Please understand this as you wait to vote, if there is a delay, one reason is your precinct workers are trying hard to make sure all qualified voters get to vote.

A couple of things to remember. The polls are open from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM. If you are in line at 7:00 PM but have not gotten in, by law, you will be allowed to vote, however long it takes your precinct to process your vote. You don't have to be signed in, you don't have to be in the door by 7:00 PM, if you are on premise and in line by closing time, you are allowed to vote.

If there is a problem with your registration, change of address, whatever, at worst you can insist on a provisional ballot. I confess, as a pollworker, this is a real pain, I've been fortunate not to have had many, but we will do them. It involves a still secret ballot and a conditional vote envelope, but if it turns out you were qualified, your vote will count.

Texas law allows one thing others might not. The first box one comes to is "straight party", ie all Democrat or all Republican, top to bottom. Should you incline mostly to one party, but you have one little exception, say for dog-catcher, you are allowed to mark that exception. All your other votes will go to the Party you prefer, but the exception will be counted.

This Blog is far more interested in honest elections than partisan advice. We have a very good process in place in Tom Green County, better than most.

One reform we support, but for future elections: Add one candidate to each office, to wit "None of the Above". The old saying about voting for the lesser of two evils, well, there is truth in that, and personally I've done it more often than I care to admit. None of the Above is for those 'lesser of two evils ' races where not even the clothespin on the nose works, both candidates stink at skunk level.

Should NOTA actually win due to voter disgust (and I would expect such wins to be rare), the jurisdiction for that office applies whatever rules would apply in the event of the death of an incumbent. A caretaker either assumes office or is appointed, pending a special election to fill the office None of the Above has just won. Optional provision I advise; in that event, none of the candidates having lost to NOTA is eligible to run again in the special election.

Just a stray pre-election thought. If we are lucky, most races will go definitively one way or the other next week. I've done two recounts, I could die a happy man if I never do another, it's a tedious pain in the a**. Based on the polling going on, I may not get this wish, but I am allowed to hope.

Final point: Texas is one of the states that allows convicted felons to vote AFTER they have "paid their debt to society". A felon has to have completed any term and any probation/parole imposed by the court, but once that is done said person is allowed the franchise. I helped a lady who served a short prison term many years ago register for this election. She is so excited, I told her about early vote, but no, that wouldn't do. She insists on coming to her precinct, on election day and casting her ballot. I'm sure some of you disagree, I've heard the arguement, but I have to believe reintegrating people into the "real world" helps rehabilitate those who care to be helped.

If you have not already voted, please, VOTE! I am not going to tell you (here) how to vote, just vote. My trade name of "barkeep" is real, I did that for a while. When a patron would get noisy about politics, my standard question was "Did you vote?" Often as not they hadn't for one or another shabby excuse, at which point I would tell them "Shut up then. Voting is your license to bitch, and you ain't got a license". Go out Tuesday and if nothing else, get your "License to Bitch".

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