Judging from newspaper headlines, the nation’s electoral system often seems in peril with outrageously gerrymandered political districts and disturbing intelligence reports on Russian attempts to shatter public faith in voting. And voter suppression is alive and well these days. In 2016, Texas ranked 47th in electoral turnout. Disgraceful.
While neither courts nor public should tolerate any law or scheme that works against fair and honest elections, the fact remains many folks don’t vote because it’s too much bother. There is something to be said of voters who show a little civic initiative, Democrat or Republican.
Even with strong headwinds hindering certain groups in Texas, citizens ought to care enough about their country to register and vote. It’s one of the very few obligations that early generations of Americans set for U.S. citizens. (Other obligations: military service if required and jury duty, one of the most powerful acts of citizenship). All this is to encourage Texans to take a cue from Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos and ensure they’re registered for this year’s March 6 primary election. Deadline to register is Monday.
Voters can register through Election Administrator Kathy Van Wolfe’s office at 214 N. Fourth St., Suite 300, in downtown Waco. You can also register by mail after obtaining an application at libraries, government offices or high schools. But the elections office is best because Van Wolfe has an efficient staff that can answer questions. Those unsure of whether they’re registered — perhaps they’ve missed a few elections — can find out by visiting the Texas Secretary of State’s website or votetexas.gov.
Notwithstanding Texas’ poor record of voting rights over the years, legislators do seem proud of the state policy of early voting: roughly two weeks before Election Day during which folks can avoid long lines and cast ballots. And remember, one of seven approved forms of photo ID is required when you vote: a Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety; a Texas Election Identification Certificate, issued by the DPS; Texas personal ID card, from the DPS; Texas handgun license, from the DPS; U.S. military ID card with the person’s photo; U.S. citizenship certificate with the person’s photo; or a U.S. passport (book or card). If a citizen cannot (by law) “reasonably obtain” such ID, he or she can use a government document with the voter’s name and address, including a voter registration certificate, or such items as a current utility bill, bank statement or paycheck.
The Trib continues to do its part to better inform voters about primary election candidates through our Sunday Q&As, especially useful in races that don’t attract much attention. This Sunday’s Trib offers Q&As with the two Democrats vying to win their primary election to face Republican Congressman Bill Flores in the fall. Both offered excellent insights, in our opinion. Our interview with Congressman Flores, who has also demonstrated great intellect and depth in Trib Q&As, runs later this year when he faces the victor of the March 6 election. And check our Q&As at WacoTrib.com for other candidate interviews.