Well, maybe. If it is close the lawsuits, recounts and similar might keep everybody uncertain for weeks to come. That, in turn, would delay the news being dominated by speculation about who the leading presidential contenders for 2016 are and how soon they will announce and launch their campaigns.
However, no matter which candidate wins, from the top on down, it is probably safe to say that the true majority of Americans — voting and not voting — feel relieved that this thing is finally winding up. It was, after all, never supposed to be this messy, this confusing or designed to last this long.
However, it is not too early to declare a winner in this election. It is representative democracy because all indications are that not only in Floyd County, not only in Georgia but also in much of the nation voter turnout is remarkably strong.
This means the people haven’t given up on the process or the ideal although — let’s be frank — many political figures from all spectrums of opinion have given them plenty of reason to throw up their hands in despair and walk away.
IT REALLY doesn’t matter that some voters, or even a lot of them, cast ballots based on the wrong reasons or without a real grasp of the issues. That’s always the case and, in theory at least, large turnouts are supposed to blunt or override such factors. Of course, the collective opinion is never assured of being wise ... only collective.
Nor does it mean some sort of record turnout is pending. Voting participation has long actually been quite miserable — less than 60 percent of eligible voters and probably about 80 percent of those who actually bothered to register.
However, based on early voting turnout it should be good … although not good enough to say an actual “majority” of Americans picked the winner in any strongly contested race, such as that for president. Combine those who voted “for the other guy” and those “who didn’t care enough to vote” with those who cared so little as to not even show enough interest to register and the “winner” is actually a minority selection.
Still, in Floyd County more registered voters cast ballots in the “early” days at the two very limited locations (more than 14,000) than showed up at all the precincts for the July 31 primary election (almost 12,000). Early voting was almost seven times greater for the current election than early interest for the one in July.
EVEN CONCEDING that there was really nothing for Democrats to vote upon in that July primary — and there are way more citizens in these parts inclined in that direction than most of those in the “other party” are willing to believe — that ballot actually featured the so-called TSPLOST for major highway improvements of importance to all citizens. That was clobbered although, in reality, its passage would doubtless have done more for the overall betterment of those voting hereabouts than any president, congressman, state senator/representative and so forth will likely ever be able to do.
It is also important to understand that early voting — as it differs from the traditional absentee balloting — is in its comparative infancy being only a bit older than the “voter ID” requirements. The latter makes it more difficult or at least bothersome to participate although the intention, despite a lack of provable illegal voting, is meritorious. Election outcomes should be certain to be correct. The former makes it easier to participate … well, somewhat ... and doubtless buries any votes lost by paperwork rules in an avalanche of votes encouraged by accessibility to the polls.
Of course, two locations in the heart of Rome only a couple of miles apart hardly serve those in Cave Spring or Armuchee or Lindale as well as they should.
NEITHER DOES Tuesday voting serve the electorate well, although having some 30 to 40 percent of the turnout come out ahead of time now certainly eases the crush and waiting in lines today.
Few today realize it but Tuesday voting is actually one of the last “blue laws” remaining in this country. One can drink and buy alcohol in Rome on Sunday nowadays … but not vote.
The federal legal date establishment of having presidential/congressional elections on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November (and city/county/state elections piggybacking on the pattern if for no other reason than extra voting days cost more money) dates back to 1845. Before that, “election day” could be on any of the 34 days before the Electoral College met in December.
Tuesday was chosen in a time when most Americans lived on farms, traveled by horseback or on foot to their voting place, so it wouldn’t conflict with Sunday services given most voters would have to travel a day to reach the nearest polling place — else only city folks would have had the vote if held on a Monday ... or Saturday, with not enough time for country folks to get back in time for church on Sunday.
ALSO, NOV. 1 was con-sidered impossible as that was All Soul’s Day, when all Catholics were then expected to also show up in church. Thus the taboo on the first Monday as Nov. 1 could sometimes fall the day after Sunday.
And, by the way, leaving the fields and livestock for a couple of days even after harvest season was no problem. After all, the women and/or slaves would stay behind to look after things. They couldn’t vote back then anyway.
The best thing to happen to voter participation would be for this Tuesday stuff to go entirely away, except as a “deadline.” Times and voting rights have changed.
Voting should be available for longer periods and longer hours, including evenings and weekends — even on Sunday — as a matter of routine. Oregon already has voted entirely by mail since 2000 (no polling places at all). Online voting has bugs to be worked out due to security/hacker concerns … but Estonia already does it only this way and New Jersey, for hurricane victims, is doing it today.
It’s good to see early voting appear to be “catching on” in Greater Rome and elsewhere. That needs to be encouraged. Participation is what improves the chances of representative democracy performing as the Founding Fathers believed it could.
RIGHT NOW, it is just as easy to blame the “process” for what isn’t working as it is the politicians.