Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Red State Primary

     The Texas election--officially known as the Republican Primary--went down today.  A Democrat has not been elected to a statewide office since 1994, and 2012 doesn't look to buck that trend.  So, winning the Republican Primary is usually tantamount to winning the general election.  In time, demographics will overtake the GOP's hold--perhaps in 2018, but certainly by 2022.  But for now, the Republicans reign supreme.
     It hasn't always been that way.  When I first moved to my little town in 1977, you actually could not vote Republican at all.  If you wanted to vote in the GOP Primary, you had to drive 5 miles north to the next little town.  Eventually, Republicans were allowed to vote here.  I remember the first time--the respective local precinct chairmen eyed each other warily, like two prize-fighters, across the room they had to share in the old City Hall.  At that time, I started easing into voting GOP, in reaction to my disillusionment with the Carter administration.    By the mid 1990s, the situation had completely reversed, and Democratic voters were as scarce as hen's teeth.  The Republican Party was never a good fit for me, however, and I have long since reversed course--now doing penance for my sins committed in the voting booth during the Bush Administration.
     The county line runs through the south edge of our town, and we live on the wrong side of that boundary.  So, unless it is a city election, we have to drive 6 miles to a rural community south of here.  At different times, my wife, son and I all voted there today.  Political signs lined the street across from the Fellowship Hall of an old 1909 Methodist Church--the largest one for a GOP candidate setting out his 3-point platform:  God, Public Education and 2nd Amendment.  Voting here is always a lot of fun.  A new state statute requires random I.D. checks.  The lot fell to the lady in front of me, and the paperwork required to document their verification of her I.D. brought the voting to a complete halt, as the 3 poll worker-ladies tried to figure out what to do.  We are required to tell the first poll worker which ballot we want--Republican or Democratic.  When I requested the latter, she looked at me funny, and said something like "we haven't had many of those today."  And she was right.  At an hour before closing, I was only the 8th Democratic voter, the 5th and 7th being my wife and son.  When I got home, the three of us sat around and exchanged stories of our voting experiences.  The poll worker said much the same thing to my wife that she did to me.  But when my son asked for a Democratic ballot, she asked, "Are you sure?"  He then asked her if it was still legal to vote Democratic in this state.  Just for fun, we sat around together and watched a bit of the evening news.  The reporter interviewed a clean-cut young man who was voting for the first time.  He talked of the importance of what he was doing and how proud he was to "cast a vote for the Big Man upstairs."
Lord Help Us.
    

4 comments:

Kirk said...

My younger daughters have instructed me to vote for Obama. "We know what he's doing," they said. "We don't know what the other guy is going to do."

Pretty smart kids.

123 said...

The fact that you have to ask for a D or R ballot just seems illegal, or it's at least contrary to what i was always taught about elections in the North. I once worked an election in MN and was warned in dire terms not to under any circumstances make comments for or against any candidate, party, issue, etc., not even a joke, as this could actually invalidate all the votes in the precinct were a complaint to be made.

Asking for a ballot and getting that sort of comment would seem to hearken back (how far?) to voting laws written to tilt elections in favor of one side or the other, e.g., for Democrats in the old days, for whites.

John said...

123,
I agree completely. There were people in front of me, people behind me, and the 3 poll workers in a clump in front of me. If I was concerned about keeping my party affiliation secret, I could not have done so. I suppose I could have pointed. The whole things was totally unprofessional. My wife wondered if her ballot even counted, as the woman had to get up and beat on the side of the machine that accepted our completed ballots. I felt like I voted in the Hooterville precinct.

Ken Peck said...

We moved to Texas in 1947. At that time, the Republicans didn't even have primaries. They held secretive conventions -- often in someone's garage at an odd hour. For much of my life election in the Democratic Primary meant election to office.

This time around, in early voting Republican and Democratic primaries and precincts were combined. I had to ask for a Democratic ballot. However, that was not the case in the actual primary day election. I was an election judge for a Democratic Primary (combined precincts). We had to turn away dozens of Republicans who showed up wanting to vote in the Republican Primary which was at a different location.

We did have one nut show up complaining that signs posted within the 100 foot electioneering boundary indicating that this was a Democratic Primary was "electioneering."