Tag Archives: Election Day

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!

Feels like the first time

Anxiousness is setting in as I await Election Day.

To be candid, I do not believe I have felt quite like this prior to a presidential election since, oh, the first time I was able to cast my ballot. That was in 1972. A long time ago, yes? However, I do have much the same sense of anticipation that I felt way back when I was so much younger.

I want this outcome to turn out the right way. I want Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. to be elected president over Donald John Trump Sr. I want Trump banished from the White House, from my house, from your house.

I was a freshly scrubbed registered voter in 1972 when I got to vote for the first time. I had served my country in the U.S. Army. I returned home from my two-year stint impassioned to change the course of the nation. The Vietnam War was raging. I had gotten a look at that war up close for a bit of time and came away more confused about it than I was when I arrived there in the spring of 1969. They were still shooting guns, dropping bombs and killing people with the same regularity when I left as when I arrived.

I wanted that war to end.

I lined up behind Sen. George McGovern. I wanted President Nixon to lose the election. I wanted then, as I do now, a dramatic course correction for our nation. It didn’t work out well for us then. Nixon was bigly, as in really huge.

That’s where the symmetry between then and now ends.

Many presidential elections have come and gone, of course. Some of them turned out the way I preferred. Some of them went the other way. The nation survived. I feared we might not survive the 1972 election result. It turned out that another matter, Watergate, intervened to take care of things for us. Nixon quit less than two years later.

I am sensing much the same anxiousness now as I was then. Add a bit of anxiety, and you might grasp a bit more the importance I am attaching to ridding the nation of the repulsive conduct of our commander in chief.

Yep, it feels like the first time.

Wishing media could dial back Biden’s poll reporting

The media are having a field day reporting on Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s spectacular poll ratings against Donald J. Trump Sr.

Biden is leading Trump by double digits, the media tell us. Biden is leading Trump in virtually all the critical “swing states,” they report. Biden might already have enough Electoral College votes in the bank to assure his election in November, the reporting continues.

I want the media to dial it back. Why? Because it is beginning to fill me with a sense of hope that might not hold up as we head down the stretch toward Election Day.

My memory is vivid on some things. One of those matters involves what the media reported at this stage of the 2016 campaign. They said Hillary Clinton would cruise to an easy election.

I bought that narrative four years ago. I was so confident that I attended an election-night watch party with my wife at some friends’ house in Amarillo. We went there expecting Hillary Clinton to make a victory speech upon getting the concession call from Donald Trump.

Uhh, it didn’t happen. My worst political nightmare came to pass on election night 2016.

I am acutely aware that Joe Biden doesn’t carry nearly the negative baggage that Clinton did against Trump. I also am aware that much of Trump’s message that sold against Clinton is hitting the deck with a thud against Biden.

We have an economy in collapse, the nation’s response to the pandemic has been disastrous. Trump is campaigning against his own record as president, if you allow me to parse the rhetoric he keeps using.

I know the media have a role to play and a job to do. Part of all that is to tell us what the polling is telling us about the race as it develops. It’s just making me nervous.

Hoping our national nightmare ends in four months

President Gerald Ford told us our “long national nightmare” ended the moment in August 1974 when his predecessor resigned from office and jetted off to oblivion.

I am hoping for a return of a similar moment when we get the ballots counted in November. My sincere hope is that Joseph R. Biden Jr. gets many more votes than Donald J. Trump Sr., that he wins a sufficient number of Electoral College votes to be elected president and that the incumbent will start packing up his belongings and jet off somewhere far away from the White House.

The process could get cumbersome if Trump decides to declare the election is “rigged” or that a foreign power “stole” it from the people of this country. The irony of such a declaration would be remarkable, to be sure, given what happened in 2016 when the Russians attacked our electoral system. Trump collected fewer actual votes than Hillary Clinton but garnered enough electoral votes to become president.

It’s been a disastrous run ever since. Trump can boast, brag and bloviate all he wants about what a “fantastic” job he’s done. He hasn’t. He has made a mess of our international alliances, torched every possible norm associated with the presidency, alienated the nation from the rest of the world and behaved like the first-class boor we all knew he was when he declared his candidacy.

There’s far more at stake than just the presidency. I want to see the Senate change hands, from Republican to Democratic control. I want to see a newly elected president work with lawmakers of both parties, something Biden has been able to do while serving in the Senate and then for two terms as vice president.

You see, we have received a real-time lesson in how the presidency is far too big a responsibility for someone who requires on-the-job training. What’s more, that someone at least needs to understand the necessity of learning about history, about government and about the limitations of power inherent in the office he inherited. Donald Trump has no interest in any of that. None!

I want a return to good government. Not necessarily big government. Just a government that works.

I hope we get it in just a little less than four months from now. I don’t want to wish my life away, but I also hope that time between now and Election Day goes quickly. I am weary of the chaos.