Don’t Let Political Reality Keep You From the Polls

Monday, October 15, 2012, Vol. 127, No. 201

So the state-by-state presidential campaign math comes out to Tennessee not mattering. And we are a big blue dot in a red state here in Shelby County.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t vote. To the contrary, it is more important now than ever that you go to the polls during early voting or on Election Day.

Voting is an individual right. It is not something determined by majority rule.

It is your opportunity to speak after being spoken at through months of TV ads, direct mail pieces, robocalls, yard signs, billboards and Facebook friends who have found their not-so-inner political voice.

This is the election cycle that more Shelby County residents vote in than any other election cycle. It is the only election cycle where more than half of the county’s voters turnout election after election. That hasn’t happened in any local nonpresidential election cycle since the November 1994 Congressional midterm general elections.

The trend is likely to continue if we don’t see some decisive action to end the electoral problems that must get some, but not all, of the blame for our chronic low turnout in Shelby County.

The problem is election officials and employees not doing their job the right way. And it has been heading in this direction for a while – through Democratic and Republican majorities on the Shelby County Election Commission. The litany of problems includes some relatively minor mistakes that wouldn’t be a big deal provided someone had fixed them. But they haven’t. And it doesn’t look to us as if they will.

We are left with a list of recurring problems that political leaders have chosen to divide based on which party had the majority at the time.

The quickest and surest way to delay a resolution of the problem is to partisan it up. Play to partisan distinctions that don’t matter. That way any chance of reform is doomed because it wasn’t on one party’s watch.

We need electoral reform that is about our basic electoral system not phantom “black box” problems no one can verify or a denial of political reality

In the case of the local Democratic party, saying that you’ve brought Kathryn Bowers, a former state legislator who served prison time for corruption, “out of retirement” to help restore “trust” in the election process is a symptom of a larger problem – credibility.

Republicans have to take off the blinders that are custom-fitted for the majority party and stop defending a majority Republican Election Commission because it is majority Republican for the first time in a long time.

It’s been Republican long enough to make the necessary changes and get an election right to a larger degree that we saw in August.

The electoral process belongs to us, not the party in charge or the party that was in charge.

Both parties are accountable and both parties can be part of the solution.