It’s Time to Heed the Warning

The pandemic warning causes us to remain safe

Our days seem to force us to face one warning after another. The weight of the pandemic is felt everywhere, from our hospitals and Wall Street and our places of work to our homes. “Stay safe!” is what we all hear.

The warning and the associated pressures change our lives. We stay home. We observe social distancing measures. We wash our hands, we wash our hands, we wash our hands. Can it get worse? Will it ever end?

We hear a warning about voting

061520 Warning

Now we hear another warning. Voting in this country is at risk. And worse, it’s not all about the pandemic! No, it seems our human frailties are showing up at the ballot box as technology fails us, planning fails us, staffing and training fail us, and strategies to suppress the vote promise to muddy the outcome. The warning is real and must not be ignored.

CNN’s Abby Phillip reported about “A Giant Warning Siren” that was heard when Georgia voted in last Tuesday’s primary election. She points out:

A perfect storm of Election Day problems made parts of Georgia the new poster child for the perils states face as they adapt American voting procedures to meet the needs of voters during a pandemic.

Voters in several polling locations throughout the state reported late opening times. Georgia’s problems were compounded by the fact that the state rolled out new voting machines that were unfamiliar to both voters and poll workers, causing even more delays.

Elections officials in Atlanta also scrambled to replace poll workers unable or unwilling to work during the pandemic.

The result was that in densely populated parts of the state, long lines stretched for blocks and voters waited for hours to cast their ballot. Some voters waited in line until 1 a.m. on election night to have the chance to cast their ballot.

We hear a warning about not being prepared

Fredreka Schouten and Gregory Krieg, also from CNN, refer to the election experience was like many others that as “… some sneaky trick.” They reported:

The troubles in Georgia were most harshly felt in heavily African American counties in and around Atlanta, where some defective machines set off scrambles for provisional ballots, which were in short supply. There were also widespread cases of voters across the state reporting that their absentee ballots showed up late – or not at all – for a primary election twice-delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Notice that the above reporting speaks nothing, not a word, about the potential threat of foreign election meddling. Do we need yet another warning about that? Or if we fix a few domestic concerns, will those threats magically go away?

The onslaught of one warning after another can be depressing. Voting can be depressing. Is the nation headed for a culture of despair?

Voting is meant to be hopeful and responsible

Voting should be a time of hope for a better future, a recognition that the power of governance is in our hands – in our voting voice!

Dareh Gregorian of NBC reports a sliver of hope as we saw “Voter turnout soared in Georgia… .” She quotes Alan Abramowitz, a political science professor at Atlanta’s Emory University, as he assessed the primary:

This was extraordinarily high turnout for a primary — way beyond what we’ve seen in previous primary elections. The bottom line is that, despite all of the problems at the polls on Tuesday, it appears that there was a big increase in turnout over 2018, especially on the Democratic side. And over 900,000 votes cast in the Democratic Senate primary blows the 310,000 votes cast in the 2016 Democratic Senate primary out of the water.

Voting turnouts reveal who we are

Voting turnouts tell stories. They tell us about how much we care about our democracy and what for what we can hope. Voting turnouts, like cheers at sporting events (have you forgotten those yet?), can electrify the nation with a realization, as COVID-19 has shown, we are in this together! More, voter turnout, when it’s positive, can give us a hopeful glimpse into our future.

Voter turnouts also speak to our level of “wanting-to-matter!” If we turn our backs on voting, the message is that we don’t care. It says, “Don’t bother me.” If, on the other hand, we are willing to face the pandemic, stand in long lines, and wait for hours to cast our ballots, the message becomes, “Damn right we care!”

There’s another warning mixed in with the recent Georgia turnout. The warning is directed to anyone who tries to hang on to antics of a failed leadership, who thrive on historical greed, and who are willing to adhere to the status quo rather than improve our human condition – our pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.

Voting turnout gives warning about how much we care

This warning should awaken all of us that we want our votes to matter. This warning emphasizes the Equal Voice Voting (EVV) message that presidential elections matter and our votes should not be suppressed. The warning should awaken us to the fact that EVV can almost double our representation in the Electoral College and will encourage greater voter turnouts.

It is time for us to pay attention. Less than four months from now we will vote for a president. Will the turnout make a difference? Will voters be willing to take the time, withstand inconvenience, and persist to make their vote count?

Or will one warning, pick any you like, reveal we don’t really care?

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By Jerry Spriggs and the Equal Voice Voting Team

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