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More Engaged, And Tired, Electorate

By Rolland Kidder

It used to be that “voting time” meant a day certain, the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Now, with early voting and voting by mail–that time has started already.

I have no problem with making voting easier. The average voter turn-out in America in my lifetime has been anemic. Giving citizens more options on how to cast their ballots is a good thing. There was a lesson recently learned in Jamestown when, with mail-in ballots, a proposal to support the public library passed. I doubt that would have happened if the vote had been held only in polling places on one particular day since turn-out would have likely been less.

This year, COVID 19 has also come into play in the voting equation. People are being discouraged from public outings and some may shy away from going to the polls. I am old-fashioned and intend to put my mask on and show up at our local polling place, as I always have. But those who are more cautious and have requested an absentee ballot will be able to vote by mail. That is okay with me.

I can’t really remember a more engaged electorate than we have this year. It has been a divisive campaign. People on both sides are energized about the election. It reminds me a bit of the 1960 election when John Kennedy ran against Richard Nixon. There were fears spread then that if a Catholic were elected President, the Pope would control the country. Of course, that didn’t happen.

1960 was also the first time that televised debates in a Presidential election were used. It created a lot of public interest. This year the debates also drew a lot of attention, primarily because in the first debate there wasn’t much debating… mostly posturing and yelling than anything else, primarily by the President.

The last debate, on Thursday night was better. It was an improvement over the first debate since a new rule muted the mike of the contestants during their opponent’s initial two-minute presentation. That calmed the waters at bit as compared to the first debate. It wasn’t as much of a shouting match.

It was still hard to listen to with sometimes accusations more than facts presented, yet there were fewer interruptions. I doubt that this last debate moved the needle much as to whom people will vote for. Each candidate held their own without a lot of surprises. It did show dramatically, however, the difference in personality and approach of the two men, and of how they differ not only on issues but in the way they view the role of the Presidency in our system of government.

It seems to me that not only is the electorate this year more engaged in the election, we are also more exhausted. This has probably, for many, been the most contentious and, perhaps, the most important race for President they have ever experienced.

Because of the large number of absentee and mail-in ballots, we may not know on Tuesday night who the winner is. Yet, let’s hope that we don’t have to wait weeks for court fights and litigation to end this seemingly unending race for the Presidency. I can’t wait for this campaign to end. It is time to vote!

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.

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