They have travelled distances and waited in long lines.
They have brought IDs, masks, friends, family–and perseverance.
When Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered that no county could have more than one mail-ballot drop off location, Texans took this attempt to suppress voting as a challenge–over 5 million voted in the first eight days. Harris County helped things along by tripling its number of early voting sites and extending voting hours.
With a week of early voting to go, over a quarter million Idahoans have voted.
Many, however, enjoy the traditions of going to the polls on election day, entering a booth, and hearing their name called.
One 90-year-old refused my suggestion to apply for an absentee ballot by saying, “Oh, no. My friends at the polls would all think I was dead.” She then listed her poll workers by name.
But absentee and early voting, especially with extended hours, help many. Some are pushing for a national holiday, but who would get it off? Not doctors or nurses, bus drivers or police, wait persons or store clerks.
I hope today’s students get to vote as much as we did in school. I can’t remember just what our teachers found for us to vote about, but I do remember hands in the air and scribbled jottings on scraps of paper.
Once at a Parent-Teacher Organization meeting a member objected to voting on the prepared ballots by pointing at the person who lost out for chair couldn’t hold any office. We were about to eliminate one of our best qualified.
The acting chair paused for a moment, then shrugged. “ Please lower your heads and close your eyes. Raise your right hand to….”
We all laughed–we knew the routine.
Americans vote in many different ways–partisan and non-partisan; by cities, counties, states and zones–dozens of zones. Judgeships always have only one candidate, but primaries are apt to have five.
And we’re constantly tuning the voting process.
Caldwell quickly changed a law last fall so that future council members can win by a plurality, rather than a majority. Run-off elections can be expensive.
The Idaho legislature imposed a new voting law on Boise–and perhaps Nampa–this year. It requires cities with more than 100,000 to elect council members by zone–like school boards. The change will hurt some because some current council members will have to run against one another. Overall, though, it’s a good move. Zone voting means more diversity and more interaction with constituents.
A couple of other changes are worth considering. One is “ranked voting” in which voters mark their first, second, and third choices. If their first choice doesn’t make the top three, then it’s dropped, and their vote goes to their second choice. It could save Idaho’s Republicans from fielding candidates that got only 25% of the primary votes.
And I would like to see a system for electing the president where candidates might actually come to Idaho. Red and blue states share the same problem–with a winner-take-all system no votes over 50% count. Four to eight swing states get all the attention.
We don’t have to abolish the electoral college to change that. We just need states to allot electoral votes according to the popular vote. In every state candidates would be fighting for one more electoral vote, not 4 in Idaho and 38 in Texas.
Make your plan and vote! It’s the ‘in’ thing these days. (And mail your absentee ballot today or see that someone takes it to the Elections Office.)