Tag Archives: voting

Long lines, long delays need to be fixed

They’re standing in long lines to vote in Texas and elsewhere, or so we are being told. That has to stop.

I’ve never quite understood why voting on Election Day has to be such an arduous task for so many Americans. County election officials ought to know roughly how many voters to expect; they ought to be able to assign enough polling place judges to work those elections; they ought to deploy enough voting machines to accept the ballots.

Media reports tell us of long lines in Harris County, Dallas County, Tarrant County, Travis County. I live in Collin County, which has more than 1 million residents. Fortunately for my wife and me, we didn’t have to wait more than just a minute or two when we cast our ballots in our rural community.

This isn’t a partisan issue. Republicans run things in Texas and many Democrats accuse the state of deliberately making it difficult for Texans to vote; they call it “voter suppression.”

However, the long lines are occurring in states such as California and Virginia, where Democrats hold the power.

Whatever the case, and whichever party is in control, there needs to be legislation enacted at the state level to ensure that voters do not have to stand in line for hours on end just to do their civic duty and to perform this fundamental act of citizenship.

Does voting compromise one’s objectivity?

Every now and then you hear journalists say something like this: I don’t vote because doing so would compromise my ability to cover candidates fairly.

You even hear such things from public officials, namely those in the legal or law enforcement professions. They don’t vote because they want to be able to investigate wrongdoing without regard to whether they are investigating a politician they might have endorsed with their ballot.

I do not harbor such reticence. I have voted in every election since I became eligible to vote, which was, shall we say, a long time ago. I do so with pride. I take a great deal of interest in the political and electoral process.

I was a journalist for more than 37 years. I spent most of those years as an opinion writer and editor of opinion pages.

Not one time did I ever ponder whether my job interfered with my performing a basic act of good citizenship, which is voting for the candidates of my choice or deciding on the issues of the day.

During the years I wrote editorials for newspapers in Oregon and Texas, I authored endorsements for candidates who did not get my vote at the ballot box. I saw no conflict there.

Of course it helped that none of the newspapers where I wrote those editorials — one in Oregon and two in Texas — required me to put my name on the editorials. I wrote them on behalf of the newspaper and its editorial board, which usually comprised me, the publisher and at times the editorial page staff.

Did the issue of whether I should vote in elections ever come up? No. Publishers to whom I reported never raised the issue. Nor did the executive editor who was my supervisor in Beaumont, Texas. It was generally understood that we were free to exercise our right to vote.

Prior to becoming an opinion writer and editor, I did work as a general assignment reporter who covered city councils, school boards, county commissions as well as writing features — and the occasional investigative piece. The issue of who got my vote never came up. No sources ever asked it of me and I never brought it up to any of them; we do vote in secret, correct?

I view voting as a fundamental right. I exercised it with unbridled enthusiasm when I was working for a living.

Did it inhibit my ability to do my job? Not for a single instant!

Voting: Feels like the first time …

Old fashionet American Constitution with USA Flag.

A young Facebook friend of mine posted a giddy comment about something she did today for the first time.

She voted.

The object of her excitement was being able to vote “FOR” the multipurpose event venue that city voters today are deciding whether to endorse or reject.

I’m glad my young acquaintance is so thrilled at voting for the first time. I hope she remains engaged, involved and energized by the political process that has rippled through the city in recent weeks.

I remember my own first vote. It was, shall we say, a very long time ago.

It was 1972. I had turned 21 two years earlier. The minimum voting age would be reduced to 18 in 1971 with enactment of the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

So, that meant I could vote in 1972. I got involved politically in the presidential campaign of U.S. Sen. George McGovern. I had separated from the Army in 1970, re-enrolled in college in January 1971 and became involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement.

Heck, I’d taken part in that war and was as confused over the reasons for fighting it upon my return to the States as I was when I went over there in the spring of 1969.

McGovern became my candidate of choice. I registered new voters among fellow college students. We held rallies, carried signs, chanted slogans … all those things that young activists do when they’re fired up about a candidate or a cause.

Well, all that energy didn’t produce the desired result.

President Nixon cruised to re-election that year, winning 61 percent of the popular vote and 49 of 50 states.


Still, it didn’t dim my love of politics and policy … and my strong desire to make sure my vote is counted at any and every level of government.

That is my wish for my young Facebook friend as she moves forward with her own life and her own interest in politics and public policy.

Keep up the good fight, young lady.


Early voting still not as good as Election Day

Here’s what I did this week. I voted early.

I’ve said it to anyone who’ll listen that I hate to vote early. I did it this week because next week I’m going to be busy throughout the entire Election Day.

I’ll be working as an exit pollster representing news gathering organizations: all the major cable networks, the broadcast networks and The Associated Press.

A polling research outfit has hired me to interview voters leaving the Randall County Courthouse Annex in south Amarillo. Their answers will be confidential and my goal is to give questionnaires to every other voter who leaves the annex. Good luck with that.

So, I voted early at the annex.

It still isn’t nearly as much fun as standing in line on Election Day, chatting with fellow voters and awaiting my turn to cast a ballot on one of those fancy-shmancy electronic voting machines.

There remains a certain pageantry to voting. People in countries where voting isn’t the norm have stood for hours, even days, waiting to do their civic duty. Surely you remember the 1994 presidential election in South Africa, the one that elected Nelson Mandela. Black South Africans who never before had been given the opportunity to vote stood in line for days awaiting their turn at the polling place. Imagine something like that happening here.

I didn’t vote in all the races. I left some of them blank. Rather than just cast a vote against someone because I don’t like their views or their party’s views, I didn’t vote for candidates about which I know too little.

Yes, I split my ballot. I cast votes for some Republicans as well as Democrats.

I feel good that my vote has been recorded. It’ll be spit out when the polls close Election Night at 7.

Having declared to you all that I’ve actually voted, I hereby reserve the right to gripe when the folks who actually win take office and fail to run things the way I want them run.