The general election is almost upon us. Tuesday, Nov. 8 is the big day.
Election days are often pizza nights in newsrooms, where late night results mean late night food to keep the journalists well fueled. As you likely know, our newsroom is not so large.
I’m not sure the three of us put together could eat more than one box of pizza.
Early voting continues until Saturday, Nov. 5. Apparently the early-early voting turnout was high, although it seemed to slow to a more typical level last week. According to Albuquerque Journal coverage, New Mexico voter turnout hit 12 percent last Thursday.
One thing I love about voting in New Mexico is same-day voter registration. It makes it simple and easy to vote. Even if you recently moved into the state or forgot that you needed to update your registration, you can still cast a ballot on Election Day.
I spent a few years in Mississippi, where you have to be registered to vote 30 days before the election in order to cast your vote in that election. Whatever the pros and cons of that policy, for a first-time Mississippi voter, it was a hassle to keep track of the registration deadline date.
As a reporter, local elections are always exciting to cover, whatever state you’re in. The vote tallying in Pearl River County, Mississippi took place in the massive historic county courthouse. It was one of those southern courtrooms you see in old movies, with a second-floor balcony, wooden seats and an astonishingly high ceiling. A very dramatic space.
There’s an adrenaline rush that comes with watching election results roll in. I think that rush is there whether you are watching numbers update on a website or, as several reporters have regaled me, living in the days when the results are posted on a blackboard outside the courtroom as they get counted.
It’s the same sort of thrill you get when your football team is closing in on a win or scrambling to escape a defeat.
Of course, the results of an election can have much more serious repercussions for a community than the Friday night football game (as important as Friday night football games are).
We get to pick who runs our government. That’s pretty phenomenal. It’s a pretty marvelous and messy thing, democracy. There are problems with any system. It’s disturbing how much of an impact campaign spending has on campaign outcomes. But no one else can cast your ballot for you. Your vote holds the same weight as anyone else’s, whatever power or money or status they may have.
We live in a country based on the ideal of democracy with a long history of disenfranchising people. There have been so many, many different ways to deny people the right to vote. Subtle and not subtle. Poll taxes, literacy tests, grandfather clauses, racist violence, gerrymandering (still a popular way to disenfranchise people), and of course outright denying people the right to vote because of who they are. It’s taken a lot of legislation, Supreme Court cases, community action, marches and protests to expand voting rights.
Women didn’t get the right to vote nationally until 1920, when the 19th Amendment was passed (with the caveat that plenty of women still needed the 24th Amendment, the 26th Amendment, the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 or the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to be passed before they could cast a ballot in U.S. elections). Now we have two women vying to represent us in House District 38.