Tag Archives: Election Day

Partisanship takes hold

If you thought the elections for city council and school board trustees were strictly non-partisan exercises, well … you’d better rethink that silly notion.

I went to vote this morning for Princeton City Council, Princeton ISD school board trustees, Collin County bond issue, Princeton bond municipal bond issue and those 14 Texas constitutional amendments.

I was greeted by a Princeton ISD trustee who handed me a card that had a list of candidates endorsed by the Collin County Republican Party. Her name, naturally, was among the endorsees.

The card had a message imploring voters to “Keep Princeton Red,” meaning, of course, that voters should ensure the candidates endorsed by the local GOP should be elected. The others? Who needs ’em? according to the flier.

This is the kind of partisan crap that doesn’t belong in these local races. We do not elect council members or board trustees on the basis of their party affiliation. We elect them based on how they feel about police protection, water services, street repair, school curriculum, teachers’ benefits and campus security.

Is there a significant difference between the two parties’ approach to these matters? I suggest there isn’t.

Thus, the political parties need to keep their mitts off these campaigns for local office.

Setting aside an evening of election returns

I am all but lead-pipe-cinch certain I know what I am going to be doing on one November evening.

I will be watching midterm election returns from my North Texas home. Election Day is Nov. 8. Some Texas school districts are taking that day off, telling students and teachers there won’t be class that day. Why? They want those who are eligible to vote to be sure to do so, which strikes me as being about as close to declaring Election Day an official holiday as anything I have seen so far.

Regular readers of this blog know of my partisan leaning. To anyone who is unaware, I will disclose that I want Democrats to fend off the Republican “red wave” that everyone was predicting would swamp Congress.

Spoiler alert: Republicans aren’t quite so smug these days. There has been some actual out-loud discussion that suggests Democrats could be in position to maintain — and possibly increase — their control of the Senate.

And get a load of this: At least one bellwether U.S. House race ended Tuesday with the Democrat edging a Republican opponent for a New York congressional seat that everyone this side of House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy thought was going to be swept up by the Republican.

What gives? Speculation is that the Supreme Court decision to overturn the landmark abortion ruling has energized pro-choice voters to, um, actually vote.

What’s driving this apparent change? Democrats have scored some legislative successes and are finally able to nationalize local races the way Republicans have been so successful at doing.

Plus, Republicans have fielded some certifiable dunderheads for public office, particularly in the Senate. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania (or is it New Jersey?), Herschel Walker in Georgia, J.D. Vance in Ohio and Lord knows who else is out there making an ass of himself or herself in front of voters.

What about the House lineup? Democrats hold a slim majority there, but the chatter is beginning to build that they well might be able to fend off that red wave … even in the House!

I cannot yet buy into the Democrats’ optimism about the House. The Senate does seem to look more promising for those of us who fear what could happen if the GOP takes command of both congressional chambers.

Vengeance appears to be at the top of Republican minds. Which tells me that governance would grind to a halt.

If Democrats can persuade enough voters over the course of the next few weeks what would ensue if the GOP grabs control of Capitol Hill, well … we might have a fun night of TV watching ahead of us.


We are headed for catastrophe … seriously!

Excuse my tendency to push the proverbial panic button with regard to the midterm election, but I have to declare my fear that we could be headed for governmental catastrophe if Congress flips from Democratic to Republican control.

Indeed, I am concerned about Mitch McConnell become majority leader if the Senate flips. Today, though, it’s House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy who has earned the bulk of my wrath. McCarthy truly gives me the heebie-jeebies.

McCarthy wants to become speaker. If the House flips to his party, then he stands a good chance — I fear! — of being chosen speaker. What does that mean for those of us who favor good government? It means the House well could launch a torrent of probes designed to embarrass Democrats.

It well could become payback time in the People’s House.

Why do I worry about McCarthy? Because we now have a possibly presumptive speaker who has been recorded on audio saying something he actually well could deny he said, which was that he intended to encourage Donald J. Trump to resign from the presidency in the wake of the 1/6 insurrection.

He said as much to Rep. Liz Cheney. Then he denied saying it — until an audio recording surfaced.

This guy is a coward. So is Mitch McConnell, to be candid. Both of these individuals blamed Donald Trump for “provoking” the Capitol Hill riot on 1/6. Then McCarthy voted against impeaching Trump and McConnell voted to acquit him in the Senate trial that commenced after the second impeachment.

Will any of this occur? The tides are moving toward a GOP blowout on Election Day. That the president’s party would suffer a congressional election setback is not unusual. It is usually the case. Both legislative chambers have razor-thin Democratic majorities, so it won’t take much for the GOP to take control of the legislative branch of government.

I just worry for the sake of good government, though, that the next speaker of the House could be a cowardly liar who backed away from his condemnation of what the world saw occur on 1/6 and then sucked up to the Insurrectionist in Chief.

I don’t want the catastrophe to occur. Nor should anyone who values this democratic process of ours.


Time of My Life, Part 57: Back to the future?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Election Day always was a big event for those of us who covered politics, policy and sought to keep government accountable for their actions on behalf of the public.

At newspapers where I worked in Oregon and in the Golden Triangle and the Texas Panhandle, they would roll out pizzas for reporters and editors working diligently to collect election returns and prepare them for delivery to our readers.

Well, I get to rejoin the fun again this weekend … albeit in quite a different capacity.

I am no longer employed by newspapers. I work as a freelancer for a weekly newspaper in Collin County, Texas. The folks for whom I work asked me to cover three contests in Farmersville, which is where I work mostly; it’s about seven miles east of where I live in Princeton.

The Farmersville City Council has one contested race on the ballot; the Farmersville Independent School District features three contested races this year. Most of the interest in the community, though, likely rests with the Farmersville ISD’s decision to ask residents to pay for a $65 million bond issue to upgrade all of the campuses in the district. The election will occur on Saturday.

The bond issue would do a number of things for FISD. It would double the high school capacity from 600 to 1,200 students; it would add classrooms to the junior high and intermediate school and would provide upgrades to Tatum Elementary School. FISD officials have noted that they do not think they got greedy with their request, but merely are seeking to keep pace with the enormous growth that’s occurring in the district.

Yeah, it’s a big deal. I’ll let you in on a secret: I want the bond issue to pass, although I pledge to cover the story straight down the middle when I report it for the Farmersville Times. My blog entitles me to speak my mind. So I just did.

This is fun stuff, man. I do enjoy covering local elections at any level. I have gotten to know the community where I work on a part-time basis. I have become acquainted with business owners, residents and elected officials at City Hall and at the school district. I have sought to build their trust in me to be fair and accurate.

I won’t be eating any pizza on Election Night. That’s all right. Just getting back into the election-coverage game is good enough for me.

Most frightening creature …

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Earth’s most frightening creature doesn’t roam the African plains in search of wildebeest or zebra. It doesn’t prowl the jungles of India looking for sambar or wild boar. Nor does it roam the Rocky Mountains preying on elk, moose or migrating salmon, or swim under the ocean surface searching for unsuspecting surfers.

Oh, no. The planet’s most frightening being sits in living rooms all across the land, lying to public opinion pollsters about who will get his or her vote for president of the United States next week.

Yep. Those folks scare the crap out of me!

How many of them are out there? How many will surface on Election Day to cast their votes for Donald Trump after telling pollsters they either are undecided or will vote for Joe Biden?

As frightening as that prospect seems, I tend to think their numbers are a bit overstated. I mean, who would hide their voting preference to a stranger who doesn’t broadcast individuals’ names, or plaster them on campaign pamphlets?

We cast our votes in secret. No one is entitled to know how we vote. So to my way of thinking there’s a bit of a disconnect between how folks vote and whether they fib when asked by pollsters.

Still, the prospect of a potential hidden vote out there gives me the creeps. I get the nervous jerks when I think of the notion that they’ll rise up en masse and re-elect the most unqualified, unfit and undeserving man ever elected to the nation’s highest office.

With that I am going to remain cautiously optimistic — with the emphasis on cautiously — that we are going to see a major course correction occur on Election Day.

Thus, I intend to sleep well over the weekend. However, I cannot guarantee how I will sleep the night before we start counting all those ballots.

Texas is voting early, but … wait

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Here is some good news and some, oh, wait-and-see news.

The Texas Tribune reports that as of Monday, 46 percent of Texas registered voters had cast their ballots. Early voting ends on Friday. The good news is that the tally so far exceeds the total percentage of early votes cast in Texas during the 2016 presidential election.

Is this reason to rejoice, that Texas finally is going to finish far from the bottom of all states in voter turnout? I am not yet going to do that.

You see, what too often happens is that greater early vote totals do not necessarily translate into greater total vote turnout. It means only that more folks vote early. Period.

There well might be a change in this year’s vote total, given the enormous effort being expended chiefly by Democratic operatives to gin up the early vote. The message likely is being heard in Texas.

Harris County smashed early vote records. Same with Dallas and Travis counties. All of them are strong Democratic bastions. What’s more, even heavy GOP-leaning counties reported record number of voters casting their ballots early.

All of this is causing many folks to consider Texas to be a “battleground” or tossup state as the campaign staggers its way toward the finish line.

I am heartened by the early vote turnout. I am not yet willing to cheer until we get all the ballots counted at the end of this arduous Election Season.

‘We can’t control the virus’

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Mark Meadows doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

He told CNN this weekend that “We can’t control” the pandemic that has killed 220,000 Americans and sickened millions more of us.

Really, Mr. White House Chief of Staff? We can’t control a virus that has been controlled quite effectively in nations all across the globe. Has he looked at what they have done in, say, Taiwan? Or Greece? Or Costa Rica? Those countries took the virus by the throat at the outset and have reported a fraction of the misery that has occurred in much of the rest of the world, including the United States.

Think of the idiocy that flew out of Meadows’s pie hole. We live in the nation with the world’s greatest researchers, the greatest medical technology, the most wherewithal to devote to fighting this disease. The White House chief of staff says we can’t control the virus?

What then does this say about the feel-good message that Donald J. Trump keeps offering. Doesn’t he say categorically that the pandemic is “under control”? Yep. He does. Oh, wait! The nation’s top politician doesn’t know what he’s talking about, either.

So here we are. We have an ignorant president saying we have a disease under control when we do not; we also have a White House chief of staff say we cannot gain control over a disease … when we damn well certainly could do so.

May we please banish this ignorance from the White House at the end of Election Day?

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.

Voter fraud lie creates more secure system?

It occurs to me that Donald Trump’s incessant, relentless lying about “rampant voter fraud” involving mail-in voting might have a positive outcome.

Trump’s fraudulent assertion has alerted state and local election officials to do all they can to ensure voting security.

Indeed, Trump’s aim is to suppress voter turnout. More voters, in Trump’s view, means less likelihood that he’ll be re-elected on Nov. 3. That’s OK with me. I also favor greater turnout because is spreads electoral power among more people, diluting the power and influence of special interests.

I tend to favor in-person voting. I likely will vote in person on Election Day. However, I have no qualms about voting by mail if Texas election officials hand me that option in time for the presidential election. Am I concerned that my vote won’t count? No. Not in the least.

Indeed, all this attention being paid to Trump’s specious and malicious assertions of “rampant fraud” is likely to make mail-in voting even more secure than it already is in the states that allow or require it.

I have been able to watch local election officials do their job with professionalism. My career in print journalism gave me an up close look at county clerks in Oregon and in Texas, where I practiced my craft for nearly 37 years. They all performed their duties with professionalism. They were conscientious about the integrity of the system they managed.

Now that Donald Trump has raised a phony specter of “rampant voter fraud,” it stands to reason that he has alerted the officials on the front line of this process to be sure it remains safe and secure.

Thanks, Mr. President.

Now … shut the hell up!