Tag Archives: early voting

Vote early … or else?

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I truly cannot believe I am saying this, but the decision we have made in our house to vote early is beginning to look more attractive with each passing day.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott made the decision even more righteous by deciding to limit hand-delivered absentee drop boxes to one per county. That’s one place to drop off your ballots no matter whether you live in a small rural county or a large urban one. My wife and I reside in Collin County, home to 1 million Texans.

Let’s see how this works. Democrats blame the Republican governor of employing voter-suppression tactics by issuing such a restrictive order.

The Texas Tribune reports: Voting rights advocates say Abbott’s move will make absentee balloting more difficult in a year when more Texans than ever are expected to vote by mail. Drop-off locations, advocates said, are particularly important given concerns about Postal Service delays, especially for disabled voters or those without access to reliable transportation.

… Abbott described his proclamation as an effort to “strengthen ballot security protocols throughout the state.” A spokesperson did not respond to questions about how allowing multiple drop-off locations might lead to fraud.

The USPS has come under intense scrutiny over the way it plans to handle a huge spike in mail-in voting in this pandemic age.

My wife and I intend to vote early in person at one of the polling locations set aside here in Collin County. We might vote at the Allen Event Center, which is a sizable venue that provides ample space for us to “socially distance.” Or we might vote at First Baptist Church in Princeton, where we’ve voted in earlier elections. We were impressed with how well the poll workers kept us safe during that election, so we might stay close to home to cast our ballots.

I would have preferred to wait until Election Day to cast my ballot. I now will heed the plea offered by Joe Biden and others in his camp who urge Americans to vote early. Vote “in person” if we can. Well, we can vote in person so we will do that and we will do so early.

I want my vote to count. I suppose, furthermore, that perhaps Donald Trump has sown enough suspicion in my own mind and heart about the Postal Service to make sure I vote in person at the earliest possible moment.

Looking forward to early Election Day

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I truly cannot believe I am about to make the following statement.

Which is that I am looking forward to voting early for president of the United States of America.

Texas opens the door to early voting on Oct. 13. We keep hearing about the need to vote as early as possible, to vote in person if we can and if we can protect ourselves against the coronavirus.

We’re going to vote on the first day of early voting. 

You know of my longstanding desire to wait until Election Day to cast my ballot. I am tossing that preference aside with increasing glee.

I am growing more concerned about Donald Trump’s potential for electoral chicanery. He says the only way Joe Biden will win is if the election is “rigged.” Trump is threatening to refuse to accept the result if Biden gets more votes than he does. Trump is suggesting “rampant voter fraud” where no fraud exists.

So with that in mind, we are going to the polls on the first day of early voting. We’ll stand in a socially distanced line for as long as it takes on that day. We will then cast our ballots.

We will vote proudly for Joe Biden. Our votes will be logged into our state’s electronic balloting system.

Then we will await the results of the election.

If Biden wins and then restores dignity to the office of the presidency, my hope is that he ends the suspicion being hurled at our electoral system.

The most frightening aspect of this suspicion is that it is coming from the guy who is masquerading as our current president. We are witnessing an astonishing display of desperation from Donald J. Trump.

I will answer Donald Trump’s horrifying effort to undermine our electoral system by voting early on the very first day that the option becomes available.

Changing election views

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

This blasted COVID-19 pandemic is forcing yours truly into a significant change in attitude about how to conduct elections.

I mean, I used to stand solidly behind the notion of voting exclusively on Election Day. I still like the idea. I would prefer to vote that way.

Then the pandemic struck. It has filled me with serious concern about getting sick while waiting to cast my ballot. So … I became a fan of voting by mail. It isn’t inherently corrupt, as Donald Trump alleges — with no basis for the allegation of “rampant voter fraud.” 

Given that I live in Texas, a state that isn’t likely to welcome universal mail-in voting, I am now going to endorse the notion of voting early. My wife and I plan to do so on the first day we can vote in Texas.

Why the change of heart? I keep hearing from election experts that early voting is the best way to ensure that our ballot gets counted.

Therein lies the fundamental reason for any concern about Election 2020. It is imperative that our votes count. It is critical to everyone that their voices are heard.

All this yammering about potential U.S. Postal Service screw-ups and how our ballots might not arrive in time, or that they might get tossed for this and/or that reason makes me a bit nervous. I do have faith in our local election officials’ ability to conduct a free, fair and accurate election.

However, just to be sure …

We’re going to vote early. We have some time yet in Texas to cast our ballots.

Were it not for this pandemic, I would be waiting all the way to Election Day. This is a big part of the “new normal” that neither my wife and I anticipated when the pandemic swept across the United States.

We’re ready for it.

Going to vote early … on the first day

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

I cannot even believe I am saying this, but I must blurt it out.

Texas opens its polling places for early voting on Oct. 13. I intend to be among the first in line to cast my ballot for president of the United States of America.

I will be wearing my mask. I’ll have my spray-on hand sanitizer in my pocket. I will keep a socially distant space between myself and the total strangers with whom I intend to be standing.

You see, this represents a monumental sea change for yours truly. I am one who is wedded to the pageantry of voting on Election Day. I have enjoyed Election Day voting since I cast my first ballot in the spring of 1972 when I voted in Oregon’s Democratic primary.

Every presidential election year since has seen my wife and me troop to the polls on Election Day.

Not this year.

The coronavirus pandemic has me worried about getting infected. My wife is even more militant about the measures we need to take than I am. Texas isn’t likely to join several other states in requiring mail-in voting, given our state’s political leadership and its fealty to Donald Trump, who suggests — wrongly, I have to say — that mail-in voting is fraught with corruption. He’s lying.

So my wife and I will troop to the polls on Oct. 13. We will cast our votes as early as possible. We want them logged into the high-powered electronic system they use in Collin County. I heard this week that the Allen Event Center will open as a voting center for county residents. It is a spacious venue that will enable voters to practice social distancing while casting their ballots. I will be there among those early voters.

You know who will get my presidential vote. It won’t be the incumbent. Joe Biden wasn’t my first choice among the huge field of Democrats running initially. Indeed, I really never found anyone among the field who stood out.

Biden is the last man standing. He endured the grueling process. He won a key endorsement on the eve of the South Carolina primary, which he then won handily … and he never looked back.

So now I’m all in for Joe.

The process through which he gets my support, though, is the element I want to underscore. We live in perilous times as the nation battles a pandemic that continues to kill Americans at a heartbreaking rate. I do not want to risk becoming infected.

So, if voting early enables me to do my civic duty proudly while staying safe from a killer virus, that’s the way it’s going to be.

Mind made up: going to vote early

I will vote early, but certainly not often, which would be corrupt, yes?

My wife and I have talked about whether we should vote early in this election cycle. We both have decided that, by golly, yes we will.

It gives me the nervous jerks to admit such a thing. I have written often over many years about my aversion to early voting in elections when I can vote on Election Day. This year, under certain circumstances, we have decided we’re going to avoid the crowd and vote early at a polling place to be announced soon by Collin County election officials. My concern centers on the fear that the candidate who gets my vote might mess up between the time I cast the ballot and when they count the ballots.

The coronavirus pandemic has frightened me sufficiently to forgo my usual Election Day routine.

I am not sure whether we’ll have vote by mail in Texas. Our state attorney general, Republican Ken Paxton, is vowing to resist voting in that fashion. He has swilled the Donald Trump Kool-Aid that makes him think all-mail voting is corrupt. It isn’t.

If Texas is not going to allow voting by mail, then I intend to vote early to ensure that my ballot gets logged in and that my wife and I can have our voices heard on who we want elected president of the United States.

Spoiler alert: It ain’t Donald J. Trump! It will be Joseph R. Biden Jr.!

The president is seeking to undermine the integrity and efficiency of our state and local election systems. He keeps harping on the specious and phony threat of corruption.

Our household intends to vote early to protect ourselves against exposure to the killer virus from a big Election Day crowd. I don’t expect Texas to join those states that have used all-mail voting with great success. We do a good job in Texas, though, in conducting early voting.

So … early voting will have to do.

Voting early: an option for sure

I cannot believe I am about to admit to possibly doing the following thing: voting early.

Donald Trump’s open warfare on the vote by mail process being promoted by Democrats has given me serious pause to break from my Election Day tradition.

I much prefer voting in person, at the polling place, on Election Day.

The COVID-19 pandemic, along with Trump’s campaign to dismember the U.S. Postal Service is giving me second thoughts.

I am not exactly a full-throated backer of mail-in voting. Given the threat of standing in line with dozens or hundreds of other voters while we’re battling a killer pandemic, I prefer voting by mail to the normal voting process. Trump is threatening to forestall mail-in voting by cutting funds for the USPS. He even admits to seeking to derail the Postal Service for political reasons: mail-in voting favors Democrats, Trump says, and we just cannot have that.

This is a disgraceful politicization of an agency that for many decades has been held in the highest regard by the American public.

Meanwhile, I am left to ponder whether I want to stand in line on Election Day or vote early, when the crowds traditionally are much thinner.

Given the stakes, I am leaning toward voting early. Oh, man. I cannot possibly articulate why that troubles me. It just does.

However, if the option — absent a vote-by-mail program enacted in Texas — is to wait on Election Day in a crowd of strangers while we’re all fighting a viral pandemic that could kill us … you get my drift, yes?

There go the early votes

Pete Buttigieg’s sudden, but not surprising, withdrawal from the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primary race illustrates brightly the hazard of casting one’s vote early.

Texans have been casting early-vote ballots. The final day was Friday. Super Tuesday occurs in two days. Buttigieg remains on the ballot. He has suspended his campaign.

He no doubt will get a lot of votes when the ballots are counted Tuesday night. However, it just goes to show what many of us have said all along, which is that casting one’s votes early exposes us to last-minute surprises involving the candidate of our choice.

To be candid, I haven’t addressed specifically the notion of dropping out as one of those surprises; my concerns usually have centered on candidates’ behavior that sullies one’s vote for them.

I suppose, though, that my own decision to wait until Election Day to cast my ballot allows me to vote for candidates who are still in the hunt for the nation’s highest public office.

Our votes matter a lot … always!

It looks as though there well might be a record voter turnout for a midterm election in Texas, based on the early vote totals being recorded across the state.

Does that diminish the individual value of Texans’ vote? Not in the least.

We all know about tiny jurisdictions where races for public office — say, school board or city council — are decided by a vote or two. A rural Texas community can elect governing councils from a total of perhaps 20 or 30 votes. You know your vote counts in that context.

Let’s broaden our horizon, shall we? Texas is going to take part on Nov. 6 in electing all 36 members of the House of Representatives and one of two members of the U.S. Senate. A number of those races are bound to be close, too close to call, within the margin of polling error. We’ll also have a number of state offices to decide.

The number of total votes cast in those races figures to be huge. That doesn’t diminish the value of our votes, yours and mine.

Then we have the county races and state legislative contests that voters will decide. Our votes count there, too.

Will there be runaways? Sure. The way I look at it, even if you cast your ballot for the candidate who loses an election by a huge margin, you still get to have your voice heard. To my way of thinking, that vote gives you an extra measure of credibility if you choose to gripe publicly about how the winner of that race is doing his or her job on your behalf.

The Texas Tribune reports that after five days of early voting, 2.14 million Texans have cast ballots. We have until the end of this week to vote early. Don’t expect the numbers to double the total of early votes, but we’re going to finish the early-vote period with a tremendous spike from the 2014 midterm election.

Do not think for an instant that the huge number diminishes the value of your individual ballot. Even statewide contests in a state as large as Texas can be decided by a single vote.

Living near the center of the early-vote explosion

I reside in the sixth most populous county in Texas, which has 254 of them spread over 268,000 square miles.

I am pleased to report that Collin County has taken its place at the head of the parade of counties where early voting totals for this year’s midterm election has smashed prior records.

The Texas Tribune has published voter turnouts for the state’s 30 largest counties. The early vote response is astonishing.

In 2014, the previous midterm election year, 18.336 Collin County residents voted early after the first couple of days. This year, the total of early votes so far is 74,273. What’s more, the 2016 early-vote totals — in a presidential election year — totaled 68,241 ballots. So this year’s midterm, non-presidential election year, so far is exceeding the turnout for a presidential year. Astounding!

Early vote totals exploding

The early returns on the number of early votes is encouraging … if it means a commensurate spike in the overall turnout. I hope that’s the case. I’ve long lamented the state’s historically miserable voter turnout performance. Texas ranks near the bottom of the nation’s 50 states in that regard. We ain’t No. 1 there, folks.

Maybe when all the ballots are counted in less than two weeks, Texas can finish somewhere up the list of states. The early numbers ae encouraging.

As I’ve noted longer than I can remember, representative democracy works better when more of us take part in this fundamental right of citizenship in a free and liberated nation.

Is Texas pushing back against voter apathy?

I want to salute what I hope is happening in real time all across Texas.

Reports are pouring in that early-voting totals are smashing records in large counties and small counties. Harris County’s early-vote totals are more than three times than what they were in 2014, the year of the previous midterm election. Dallas County’s early-vote count is shattering records, too. I haven’t heard what’s happening in Collin County, where I live — but I’ll presume that my neighbors are turning out, too.

Keep the votes coming

Regardless of the outcome of the midterm election, this is a good sign for the state if the early voting results portend a huge spike in the actual total turnout.

I’m going to wait until Election Day to cast my ballot. So this isn’t about me. It’s about so many other Texans who seem intent on reversing the state’s dubious distinction of producing time and again one of the country’s worst vote-turnout totals.

Texans like to boast about the bigness of everything here. Yep, the state is huge. It covers roughly 268,000 square miles. It’s more than 800 miles from Orange to El Paso, and from Dalhart to McAllen. The state is home to about 27 million residents. Its economy is rated among the top 15 national economies in the world.

If only the state could produce large voter turnout totals that merit such boastfulness. It’s usually pitiful. This year’s midterm election? Maybe not.

I have hope that the turnout will be large and that the early turnout totals aren’t a sign of just more Texans voting early, leaving Election Day voting to the scant remainder of the rest of the voting public.

It’s the idealist in me.