Tag Archives: early voting

Democracy is stronger than COVID

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I want to declare victory on behalf of our democratic government.

No, it has nothing to do with who won the presidential election. It has everything to do with the number of American citizens who voted while the nation we love in the grip of a killer pandemic.

The Joe Biden-Donald Trump election has drawn nearly 154 million Americans to vote for president. The previous high occurred four years ago when the Donald Trump-Hillary Clinton contest attracted more than 136 million total ballots. Oh, and get a load of this: This year’s election tally is going to grow as more ballots are counted each day.

This is worth saluting because we often gripe about voters who become lazy, or disinterested, or disengaged from the political process. Not this year, man!

Politicians mostly of the Democratic persuasion called on voters to cast their ballots. Vote by mail if you and you are concerned about exposure to the COVID virus, they said. Vote early, they implored us, to ensure your votes are counted.

It appears that the public heard the calls to vote. They responded with a turnout that no doubt will make history.

Yell it out: We’re No. 1

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Early voting in Texas has shut down and here’s the good news: Texans responded like champs to Democrats’ call for early voting.

We responded so well that the early vote totals have surpassed the entire number of ballots we cast in the 2016 election; and that includes Election Day voting four years ago.

So, what does that mean? On the surface it could mean that more voters who lean in Joe Biden’s favor have turned out to cast their ballots early. My ballot is among the more than 9 million already cast. Does the former VP have a majority of those ballots in his column? Beats me. We’ll find out in, what, four days.

Still, it warms my soft spot to know that Texas has set the pace nationally in responding to this early-vote call. It was done out of concern that Donald Trump’s re-election machine is going to muck up the ballot-counting of mail-in votes.

Democrats responded by imploring us to vote early. My wife and I did, even though we would have preferred to wait to vote in-person on Election Day. The COVID crisis, though, persuaded us to vote early and not risk getting a mail-in ballot caught up in the snail-mail delivery system.

Now comes the mad rush by the candidates — Biden and Kamala Harris on one side, and Trump and Mike Pence on the other — as they criss-cross the country in search of votes.

I am now going to relax just a bit over the next couple of days. Then I will await the returns to start pouring in on Election Night. Oh, how I want this election to turn out the correct way.

Texas in the presidential mix … who knew?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

It’s so nice to see the nation talking positively about Texas, which — to be candid — isn’t usually the case in this modern world.

We usually find ourselves on the front pages when there’s a mass shooting at a church, shopping mall or a school; or when the state’s Republican Party hierarchy doesn’t something stupid.

These days, Texas is the talk of the nation. Why? Because we are setting the early-voting pace that other states are trying to match.

I saw a report tonight that said Texans have cast nearly 86 percent of all the ballots we cast in the 2016 election. We still have two days to go before the end of early voting; plus, we have Election Day balloting.

What does this mean? It could mean that Texas will be among the leaders in voter turnout when we count all the presidential election ballots rather than among the worst-performing states.

This is good news at any level I can imagine.

I said for years when I was writing opinion pieces for newspapers in Amarillo and Beaumont that one of the keys to good government must be vast voter participation. I used to caution residents of both communities about the danger of letting others make key political decisions for them; they might not share your views, I would say.

It looks for all the world that in Texas, as well as in many states, that voters are taking these get-out-the-vote pleas quite seriously.

It fills me with pride to hear the media talk about Texas’s pace-setting early vote totals in tones that suggest that other states should emulate what we are doing here.

Will this surge spell end of Trump Era?

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Harris County, Texas, has set two records in a row since the start of early voting on Tuesday.

Dallas County up Interstate 45 hasn’t done too badly, either.

Oh, and how about Travis County, where the state Capitol can be found? They’re turning out in huge numbers, too.

Same for Bexar County.

What does this mean for the 2020 presidential election. Some Democratic activists believe it bodes well for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and us Bidenistas who want the Democrats to oust Donald Trump and Mike Pence from the White House.

I am not going to count them chickens just yet.

However, I hasten to add that Democrats have been all over TV, radio and in print telling us all to “get out and vote.” If the first two days of early voting in Texas are an indication, the message has been heard. Democrats hope it means Biden and Harris are reaping the ballot-box reward.

Let me crystal clear: I do, too, want them to harvest the electoral fruit of this get-out-the-early-vote drive.

Harris, Dallas, Bexar and Travis counties all are Democratic strongholds. I have acquaintances in blood-red Randall and Potter counties who believe the Democratic ticket is catching fire up yonder in the Panhandle. I … am not so sure about that.

However, the record-setting early-vote turnout in those Democratic bastions gives me hope that just maybe, perhaps, possibly the state could turn from an R to a D on the strength of that monstrous balloting tide.

To be sure, the Trumpkins are turning out as well. They’re flying plenty of “Trump-Pence” flags in rural Texas. Donald Trump, though, isn’t going to pitch a huge early vote among his faithful. Indeed, he wants fewer of us do our patriotic duty. Go figure.

Texans answer the call

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Texas started voting for president of the United States today.

How are we doing? How is the state responding to the mostly Democratic call to vote early? First indications suggest that we answered the call.

My wife and I became statistics in that effort. We voted early today. Indeed, we voted before noon today. We didn’t see a huge crowd, although voter traffic in our Princeton precinct appeared brisk.

Reporting statewide suggest that the larger counties experienced gigantic turnouts at polling places. Travis County? Big. Same with Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar counties.

I have long been a bit suspicious about early voting turnout and whether it indicates larger turnouts overall. In the past, we have seen only that larger early voter turnout means only that more voters cast their ballots prior to Election Day; the total number has remained static. In Texas, that overall turnout has remained among the worst in the nation.

That might be changing this time, given the panic that Donald Trump is trying to instill in voting Americans; he keeps yapping about “rampant fraud” in the election. There’s no such thing as “rampant” fraud anywhere.

The conventional wisdom suggests that large turnout helps Democrats, which is why Republicans are trying to suppress that turnout — with help from Russia.

Let’s see how his plays out until Oct. 30, the final day Texans can vote early. My ol’ trick knee is beginning to throb and it’s telling me we might see the dawn of a new political day in Texas.

Deed is done!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

It’s done! We voted today … on the first day of early voting in Texas.

I am proud of myself and of my wife for tossing aside our long-held objection to early voting and casting our ballots for president/vice president and on down through the various contests.

We had thought about traveling to the Allen Event Center, a spacious venue where we could be assured of maintaining proper social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Then we thought differently. We voted instead in Princeton, where the poll workers had set up an efficient procedure at First Baptist Church to guarantee social distancing and to protect us in various ways from getting infected by the COVID-19 virus.

The parking lot across the street from the polling place was full of folks, some of them candidates. We were approached by two of them, a Princeton mayoral candidate and a candidate for the Princeton school board of trustees. We walked by a table manned by Democrats who offered us a sheet showing the “Democratic slate” of candidates. No thanks, we said; we got ya covered.

We didn’t wait in line. However, my sense is that the traffic had been brisk all morning and that it would remain that way at least for the first few days of early voting.

This is a good thing for those of us who are concerned about the scare tactics being blurted by Donald Trump and his GOP minions who keep citing something called “rampant voter fraud.” In truth, there is no such thing as “rampant” fraud. It’s, um, shall we say — “fake news.”

So, our votes are now logged into the system.

We did our patriotic duty. I am a proud American today.

Don’t leave this matter up to someone else

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

There once was a time when I worked for a living … and during that time of my life I would write newspaper editorials urging people at election time to be sure to vote.

My argument was simple. I tried to rejigger it to avoid repeating myself. It would go something like this:

If you do not vote, then you are going to leave this critical decision to someone else, someone who might not share your world view. Do you really want to cede that responsibility when you can take control of it in your own hands?

That argument is never more relevant than it is today.

I refer to the presidential election that’s coming up on Nov. 3. My wife and I intend to vote Tuesday morning on the first day of early voting in Texas. I once was adamantly opposed to early voting. I sought to hedge my bet, guarding against someone who gets my vote from messing up after I vote for him/her but before Election Day.

That rationale is no longer in play this time. I am concerned about what Donald Trump might do to muck up the election result. He is going to challenge the result, possibly, if Joe Biden gets more votes for president than he does. That’s why I intend to vote early. My wife, too.

We intend to get our votes recorded and logged into the system.

I also want to encourage everyone who can to vote early. If we do not vote ourselves for the presidency, then we are going to leave that decision to someone else who might want to (gulp!) keep Donald Trump in office for another four years.

The person you see at the other end of the church pew might be a Trumpkin. So might your next-door neighbor. Or the crowds you see at the grocery store.

Me? I am a die-heard Bidenista. I intend to cast my vote early. I don’t want to be the only person at our Princeton, Texas polling place. I want there to be a crowd of folks. I am prepared to wait in line.

I’ll be damned if I am going to leave this decision to someone who doesn’t agree with my world view.

Anxious to vote!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I cannot even begin to believe how my attitude about early voting has changed, given the context of the time.

That said, I am waiting anxiously to cast my vote on Tuesday. My wife and I will trek to a local church to cast our ballots. We want to get them recorded into the electronic system. We will insist that our votes count … as if we don’t always insist on it.

Donald Trump has sought to cast doubt on the integrity of our electoral system. I don’t believe a word he says about “rampant voter fraud” as a result of mail-in balloting. Still, I want to ensure my vote gets logged into the massive system in Collin County, then counted among the millions of Texas ballots that will be cast.

Yes, Joe Biden has our support. We want to ensure he gets it. We need him to win this election. We need former Vice President Biden to restore the presidency to a level of respect, dignity and decorum that Donald Trump has plowed asunder.

We also need him to exhibit actual leadership in this fight against the pandemic that has killed more than 215,000 Americans.

I once would have held out until Election Day to cast my ballot. The tenor of our times prompts me to rethink that dedication to Election Day voting.

We’ll be standing in line if there is a line forming at the church where we intend to vote. We’ll be masked up, standing a “social distance” from our fellow Americans and we’ll observe all the instructions the poll workers will provide to keep us safe and healthy.

Bring it!

Take that, Gov. Abbott

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The fight over whether Texas can have more than one ballot box drop-off location per county should be over … but it likely is going to drag on.

Damn!

U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman of Austin has ruled that Gov. Greg Abbott’s order limiting each of Texas’s 254 counties to a single drop-off location for absentee ballots is no longer valid. The state likely will appeal the ruling.

Pitman, named to the federal bench in 2014 by President Obama, said Abbott failed to prove the existence of widespread voter fraud, which was the governor’s rationale for limiting the drop-off locations. Abbott’s order in fact placed a hardship on those who live long distances from those locations. Moreover, the ruling inhibited voter participation in many of Texas’s more populated counties.

I live in Collin County, home to more than 1 million Texans. Many of them are voting already. Early in-person voting begins next Tuesday. However, in our county, we were limited to just a single drop-off site, the same as next-door Dallas County (a much more populous county) and tiny rural counties that have only a handful of voters.

“By limiting ballot return centers to one per county,” Pitman wrote, “older and disabled voters living in Texas’s largest and most populous counties must travel further distances to more crowded ballot return centers where they would be at an increased risk of being infected by the coronavirus in order to exercise their right to vote and have it counted.”

This whole issue, quite naturally, is revolving around a partisan axis. Democrats hated the governor’s decision; Republicans applauded it. Democrats contend the GOP governor aims to suppress the vote; Republicans contend the governor is right to be concerned about ballot security.

Except for this: There is no evidence of widespread ballot theft. Therefore, I’ll got with the Democrats’ assertion that the GOP seeks in reduce voter participation this November, believing that more voters means their guy at the top of the ballot — Donald J. Trump — is going to lose.

Which is why Democrats, led by presidential nominee Joe Biden, are urging early voting whenever possible. They want us all to have our voices heard.

To that end, Judge Pitman has sounded a clarion call for greater voter participation.

Can we vote yet?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I guess  you could say I have come full circle on this early-voting matter.

There once was a day when I would resist casting my ballot early, fearing that my candidate(s) would do something stupid or possibly illegal between the time I cast my vote and Election Day.

Those days have been plowed asunder over concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. I now am anxious to vote and to vote early.

Texans can begin voting next Tuesday. My wife and I will venture to First Baptist Church in Princeton to cast our ballots. My hope now is simply to cast my vote and to ensure that it is recorded properly in the Collin County election system, which is as high-tech an apparatus as you’ll see anywhere.

Am I concerned about voting in person? Yes, but only a little. We voted at the church in this year’s primary and we were impressed with the care the poll workers took to ensure we were masked up, that kept appropriate “social distance” and that we didn’t touch anything that didn’t relate directly to the act of voting. Through it all the poll workers were spraying every surface they could find with disinfectant.

We are going to have our voices heard no matter what. I guess my preference would have been to vote by mail. We have chosen instead to troop down the street for just a few minutes to vote in person.

We have heard the message from Joe Biden and others who back him: Vote early, either in person or by mail … just be sure to vote.