Thankful in Idaho

A hearty thanks to whoever is responsible for the general election being scheduled well in advance of Thanksgiving.

As is, a Google search for “avoiding politics at Thanksgiving” brings up 49 million results. imagine if families gathered 16 days before the election rather than 16 days after.

It’s one more reason to be thankful that we don’t live in Mississippi or Georgia.  Both states require runoffs if no candidate gets over 50% of the vote.

Next Tuesday Mississippi voters will decide whether incumbent Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith or Democrat Mike Espy represents them in the U.S. Senate.  In a four-way race Nov. 6, Hyde-Smith received the plurality of votes but fell far short of the 50 percent required.

The following Tuesday, Dec. 4, Georgia voters will vote for a new secretary of state. For a while, it appeared they’d also vote for governor, but after every vote was counted, Republican Brian Kemp received 50.2 percent of the vote.

This year Maine used instant runoff for federal races. Voters could indicate a second choice in case their first choice didn’t make the top two. In the second Congressional district, the Democrat lost in first place votes by 0.9 percent but ended up 0.5 percent ahead after the second choice votes of the third- and fourth-place candidates were added in.

We can only guess which state will have more dinners disrupted by election wrangling.

This week Idahoans have asked me two questions about this year’s elections.

First, they were upset why it took so long to count the ballots. We’ve been getting results on election night for years

Actually, there are always votes that aren’t counted on election night. If one candidate has a solid lead, votes counted later don’t change it.

This year we had some close races.  So those provisional ballots cast by voters without adequate ID and those absentee ballots postmarked election day could make a difference.

And it takes time for election workers to compare signatures on envelopes  with those on file and to give voters a chance to remedy rejected or missing signatures.

A 30,000 election-night lead can seem pretty puny when 260,000 mail-in and provisional ballots come in.  (Arizona made headlines with 600,000 ballots to count after election night.)

People also questioned why anyone opposes requiring voter ID.

Some object because people who are old or very poor may have difficulty getting IDs.. Studies aren’t clear on whether ID requirements keep people from the polls.

Much of the fuss, however, centers around 10 states with ID laws creatively aimed at excluding certain voters.

This year, less than a month before election day, the Supreme Court ruled that North Dakota could require a voter’s ID to include a street address.

Reasonable?  Well, over 20,000 North Dakota Indians live on reservations where they can get mail only at P.O. boxes. So. thousands of legal voters, many living in houses without assigned street numbers, were given less than three weeks to get proof of physical address.

A court also approved Georgia’s secretary of state picking 3,000 registered voters he suspected might not be citizens and requiring that they present proof of citizenship at the polls.

Other states have special hoops for young people–like requiring that college students who haven’t voted absentee drive to the precinct where their parents’ live to vote.

Just a few of the many voter suppression tactics used this year.

Note this editorial by Judy Ferro published by Idaho Press – 2018

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