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Get out and vote in November

Staff Writer
Runnels County Register
The 2016 Presidential election had a 56.4% voter turnout. President Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton, 62,984,828 to 65,853,514. But, President trump won the Electoral vote, 304 - 227, to gain the presidency.

One of the most basic rights that Americans have is the Right to Vote. The voter turnout for Presidential elections have dwarfed mid-term elections by a considerable amount. Whether you watch MTV, FoxNews, AMC or any of the networks, you’ll see commercials prompting people to get out and vote this November.

According to election tracking website, www.idea.int, the 2016 Presidential election had a voter turnout of 56.84%. The 2018 mid-term elections, in contrast, a 47.15% turnout. The 2014 mid-term elections only had a turnout of 32.98%.

When it comes to voting in the Presidential election, the numbers are pretty steady. The year is followed by the % of voters: 2012: 64.44%; 2008: 64.36%; 2004: 68.75%; 2000: 63.76%. The mid-term elections had fewer than half of eligible voters heading to the polls: 2018: 56.84%; 2014: 42.59%; 2010: 48.69%; 2006: 47.52%

In the 2016 Presidential election, 52.23% of Texans (4,685,047) voted for President Donald Trump over challenger Hillary Clinton (3,877,868). The state has an estimated 20,671,564 voter age people. Of those, 17,448,910 are ineligible to vote, such as ineligible felons.

In Runnels County, there are 6,676 registered voters. Of those, 3,299 (49%) voted in the 2018 mid-terms, while 3,765 (56.37%) voted in the 2016 election. The 2014 mid-terms only had 2,296 (34.81%) voters casting their ballots. That’s the lowest turnout going back to 2006, when only 2,425 (34.51%) voters headed to the polls.

Voting in Ballinger has often been determined by the narrowest of margins. In 2016, former city councilman Bob McDaniel defeated Jolene McBurney by a single vote, 66-65. In the November 2018 election, Ballinger Mayor Dawni Seymore defeated incumbent mayor Sam Mallory, by a mere 3 votes, 271-268.

Some of the closest races have been for positions on the respective school boards around Runnels County. In 2016, the race for a position on the Miles school board was another close race; Danelle Schwertner had 345 votes, Kipp Rathmell had 308 votes and Shawn Riddle had 305 votes. The top 2 were appointed to the board.

Voter apathy has contributed just as much to some candidates being elected as those who cast ballots. If only 50% of the voter eligible populations votes, then that’s 50% of the votes that didn’t go to a voter’s preferred candidate. If a candidate loses by 10 votes, and there were 11 people who preferred that candidate and who were eligible to vote, but didn’t vote, then they conceivably contributed to the opponent’s win.

This Presidential election is predicted to bring out a higher percentage of eligible voters than any other election. President Trump and former vice-president Joe Biden are at opposite ends of the political spectrum. Trump is a staunch Republican and Biden is an entrenched Democrat. Many see Trump’s presidency as tumultuous. There have been protests across the nation after the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department. “Antifa” members have accused Trump of increasing the divide between the two parties. Others have laid a perceived failed response to an unforeseeable global pandemic at Trump’s feet.

Biden has drawn criticism over the years for such things as the Anita Hill hearings. According to Pastmagazine, “When Christine Blasey Ford testified in front of Congress about Brett Kavanaugh’s attempted sexual assault, it depressingly mirrored another testimony like this from Anita Hill about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s sexual harassment in 1994—when Joe Biden and Orrin Hatch oversaw a disastrous testimony that they structured. Biden called no independent experts and forced Hill to defend herself alone against an avalanche of immensely powerful white men, and Joe Biden has since apologized and said he wished he would have done more. This is an ongoing theme with Uncle Joe, where he royally screwed up in the past, defended himself in the past, and then apologized in a more tolerant future that his political instincts are clearly not geared towards.”

When it comes to immigration, whereas President Trump wants to continue building the Wall across the southern US board, Biden wants to completely stop construction, according to NPR, “"There will not be another foot of wall constructed on my administration, No. 1," he told NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro during an interview with journalists from the National Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

"I'm going to make sure that we have border protection, but it's going to be based on making sure that we use high-tech capacity to deal with it. And at the ports of entry — that's where all the bad stuff is happening," the former vice president said during the virtual interview on Tuesday.”

Biden is also a staunch supporter of the Affordable Care Act. An act President Trump has opposed vociferously. Biden addresses his plans on his website, joebiden.com, “Immediately after its passage, Congressional Republicans began trying again and again to repeal it. Following the lead of President Trump, Republicans in Congress have only doubled down on this approach since January 2017. And, since repeal through Congress has not been working, President Trump has been unilaterally doing everything he can to sabotage the Affordable Care Act. Now, the Trump Administration is trying to get the entire law – including protections for people with pre-existing conditions – struck down in court.

As president, Biden will protect the Affordable Care Act from these continued attacks. He opposes every effort to get rid of this historic law – including efforts by Republicans, and efforts by Democrats. Instead of starting from scratch and getting rid of private insurance, he has a plan to build on the Affordable Care Act by giving Americans more choice, reducing health care costs, and making our health care system less complex to navigate.“

According to Statista.com, “In 2018, there were 153.07 million people registered to vote in the United States. Although this was an increase from 1996, when 127.66 million people were registered to vote, it’s lower than the peak of 157.6 million registered voters in 2016.”

Make the time in November to go cast your vote. Take the time to attend the meetings, hearings and workshops in your town and county. You don’t have to stay for the entire meeting, you can stay just to hear the agenda items or to give your input. All public entities give the public a comment time so you don’t have to be on the agenda to address the city council. One person can speak or 20 people can speak but each person has the opportunity to speak. Many also publish their minutes online after their respective meetings.

Only you have the final say in how you vote or don’t vote or what meetings you attend or don’t attend. Every person’s input is equally valuable, whether it’s the popular opinion or not. You make your voice heard at the polling locations and at the council meetings, hearings, workshops and commissioners’ court meetings. Your one vote can make the difference on a proposition getting passed and your preferred candidate being elected to a given position.

The Democratic presidential nominee, former vice president Joe Biden will challenge President Trump at the polls this November. The race is expected to have record voter turnout.