- Category: ELECTIONS
Rumors are the fastest traveling means of communication known to man. Scarcely a moment transpires before another false assumption or erroneous utterance becomes part of accepted lore. Often the statement has no basis in fact. Sometimes the rumor is created from misrepresented events or from a supposed valid conclusion based upon poor information. No one is immune to bad information but take a moment to consider some of the following myths and take them for what they are,
My vote doesn’t count
This is the catch all of those who want a convenient excuse for not going to the polls. These individuals have forgotten a basic principal of arithmetic. Every number, even the number one, when totaled with a sum, increases the value of the sum. This is true in voting as well as math.
There are many instances throughout history when one vote proved to be a deciding factor. We can not expect that our vote in every election will be the deciding vote. We can expect that our vote, once made, will be counted. Election officials work hard to insure that every mark on a ballot or every lever pulled on a machine or even every chad removed from a punch card is tallied when voting is done.
The only way your vote doesn’t count is when you don’t make it. If you fail to go to your polling place on Election Day or during the early voting polling period, you do not have a voice in the selection of your elected officials. Your candidate may not always win but if you don’t vote, you didn’t really support your candidate.
When you don’t vote you allow a select few to make the important decision on your representative. With a 20% voter turnout only one in five actually chose a candidate.
Someone will find out how I voted
There are many things you can learn under the Open Records Act but how someone voted is not one of them. There is only one record of your casting your vote. On the old voting machines a cast vote was only part of the many people who voted that day. If two people voted, then you might guess how one or the other cast their ballot. But if 200 vote, then how do you know from a total votes cast for a candidate how one person voted.
On paper ballots there is a record of how each person voted but no one except yourself knows what number ballot you received. The judges don’t get to see the ballot number when they allow you to select your ballot. The ballots are shuffled prior to offering you the ballot so they can not know the ballot number. At the end of the day the judges don’t even open the ballot box, they bring it to the Elections Office for counting. The Elections Office doesn’t even get a list of who voted until after the ballots are counted and locked back in the ballot box. We therefore cannot know who voted before we count the ballots.
The voting system is corrupt.
We work very hard at making sure this isn’t so.
Voting machines are programmed and tested. They are then sealed against tampering. The election judge reviews the seal before opening the machine and testing it for operation on Election Day. During the day the machines are monitored for correct operation. At the end of the day the total number of votes for each candidate is transferred from the machine printout to the precinct returns under the watchful eye of at least three workers Candidates can also appoint watchers to observe the preparation of the precinct returns. The returns are then hand delivered to the Elections Office for tallying of the vote totals. Here again the media, watchers and Elections Office personnel observe the process to be certain that all election laws and proper procedures are followed.
Election judges and clerks allow only qualified voters to enter the voting booth. The qualified voter must be a U.S. Citizen and a resident of the county. They must also be over 18 years of age, not been convicted of a felony or nor found incompetent by a court. They must also register at least 30 days prior to Election Day. Each voter receives one ballot. If they make a mistake, they can get up to two replacement ballots but the spoiled ballot is not placed in the ballot box and is accounted for in the daily accounting.
Counting of the ballots is conducted under the scrutiny of candidates (or their watchers), the media, interested observers and election office personnel. Every precinct judges certifies the returns of their precinct and the certification is signed by all witnesses in the precinct. Those returns are then open in public view and the totals tabulated
I’ll have to serve on a jury
So what. Just as voting is a civic responsibility, so is serving on a jury.
Actually many people are thinking back to the time when only registered voters were in the jury pool. Now the jury pool is made up of anyone who has a Texas Driver’s License or a Texas Identification Card. Every year the Texas Department of Public Safety compiles a list of those individuals who have updated or renewed their information. The department then transmits that information to the Secretary of State’s Office where the names are compared with the statewide list of voters and previous DPS reports to compile a jury pool for each county. It is from this list that the jury service is determined.
So in the future remember that even when you don’t register, your name will still be part of the jury pool. That is unless you are driving without a license.