“The vote is precious. It is the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democratic society, and we must use it.”
— John Lewis, the late civil rights activist and member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia.
It took five days, but at last we know who will be taking the oath of office as president on Jan. 20. Millions of good Americans who voted for President Donald Trump and millions more Americans who voted against him were kept waiting as the tedious process of counting the votes continued in several states that held the fate of the deciding vote in the Electoral College in their jammed ballot boxes.
Never has an outcome been so anticipated since the hanging chads recount in Florida in 2000, “Maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow” became the phrase we didn’t want to hear. We wanted the results now, if not sooner. Different laws in each state on when mailed ballots had to be received to be valid, a myriad of regulations on how and when those mailed ballots were to be counted, all overlaid with the rampant fear of the novel coronavirus created some concerns, but as far as we know, there was no rampant voter fraud, as President Donald Trump has alleged. The fact that the voter turnout was split almost evenly between Trump and now President-elect Joe Biden.
There was one consistent from state to state last week: Countless thousands of poll workers and election officials toiled long into the night. Making sure all the votes are counted correctly is a challenging task in every election year, but the heightened emotions surrounding the election this year put added pressure on the workers.
Compounding the delays was the fact that polling places around the country had record-breaking voter turnout — not a bad problem to have.
Some parts of the country saw eager, committed voters wait in hours-long lines to vote. While a handful of Brazos County voters had to wait a bit before casting their ballot, most voters were in and out of the polling place in short order.
Brazos County’s election administrator Trudy Hancock and her helpers did a magnificent job handling this year’s presidential election. We shouldn’t be surprised, because Hancock always does a great job.
This year provided some unique challenges that Hancock dealt with handily and with grace. There was the coronavirus pandemic to deal with. How would that affect voting, particularly on Election Day? Could we even have an Election Day? Shifting guidelines and orders from the state didn’t make Hancock’s job any easier, but she remained flexible, ready to adjust to whatever orders came along.
Some longtime workers were reluctant to staff the polls for early voting and on Election Day over concerns about the coronavirus. Hancock somehow managed to find enough workers to keep polling places open and operating smoothly.
Then, more Brazos County residents voted early this year than the total number of county voters in the 2016 presidential election.
In fact, by the time the polls closed at 7 p.m. Tuesday, more than 85,000 Brazos County voters had cast ballots — 70% of those eligible to vote. Simply amazing. Across the country, more than 74 million people voted.
Good on us. Voting is one of the most basic responsibilities we have as Americans. Let’s hope as many and more people vote early in the next election, and the next election and the next election ... .
Counting Tuesday night went smoothly in Brazos County and we saw none of the delays that plagued other parts of the country.
Congratulations to Trudy Hancock and her crew for handling another election — this one with many obstacles — so very well. Thank you to Hancock, her work crew, the numerous judges who ran the polling places calmly and professionally. Thank you to those who counted the votes.
And thank you to everyone who understands that most effective voice we have in the direction our country takes is showing up to vote.
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