By Joe Rector

Turn on the news and listen to all the upheaval about the November 3rd election. Neither party seems comfortable with the possible outcomes of the presidential or senate races. Who’d have ever thought that a presidential election could scare a nation so much?

A two-party system has long been the backbone of our political system. From local to national elections, folks have had the choice of either Republican or Democratic candidates. On occasion, an “independent” candidate has played a role in elections. However, most elections end with a winner from the two major parties.

The deciding factor in many races has been the group of undecided voters. They are the ones who declare loyalty to neither party; they, instead, cast votes based on their determinations of the best candidate, the one who will represent the best interests of the country.

From recent reporting, that independent group has disappeared. Voters are more polarized than ever. The president has his rock-solid base. They follow the man regardless of any mistakes or questionable acts he commits. Biden has his own base made up mostly of minorities, more liberal individuals, and a new group of “Never Trumpers.” Polls indicated that the number of undecided voters has shrunk to its smallest number ever.

The good is that American citizens this cycle see this election as a turning point in our country’s history. They want to elect the man this time who will develop the country in the image that is most pleasing to them. That means that the percentages of voters might soar to heights that are worthy of the greatest democracy ever built.

What’s bad is that too many tricks and lies and scare tactics are being employed. Mail-in voting has taken place in several states for years, and our servicemen and women have mailed ballots in for years. Those states have had incredibly low numbers of voter fraud. However, fear mongers are declaring that massive numbers of fraudulent ballots will be dumped into this election. Officials try to alleviate fears by assuring that the system is safe and that every ballot has several security parts to prevent such terrible things from happening.

Russia interfered with the 2016 election and is working nonstop to extend its meddling in the 2020 contest. Intelligence and law enforcement agencies are uncovering these attempts by the Russians, as well as other countries. At home, the management of the USPS seems intent upon destroying mail-in voting by removing machinery, cutting overtime, and sending out voting instructions with incorrect information.

This pandemic is also negatively affecting the election. Many voters might skip voting altogether because they are afraid to stand in lines to cast ballots. Senior citizens are most at risk of the harmful effects of Covid-19, and although this group typically comprises the largest number of voters, individuals might feel compelled to choose between health and voting.

We are told that mail-in voting could clog the system and delay the naming of a winner by days or even weeks. If that is so, then solutions that alleviate delays in counting of mail-in ballots should be developed and introduced now. I’ve heard for years how apathetic the American public is when it comes to voting. Now we have a red-hot race that might lead to an all-time high in voter participation. We’ve sent men to the moon; we’ve developed cars that can drive themselves. Shouldn’t our country’s greatest minds be able to create a method that accommodates voters, allows mail-in voting, and counts votes in an efficient and timely manner?

I’m excited to vote. I hope you are. If you qualify for an absentee ballot (Tennessee doesn’t allow mail-in voting for everyone), make sure you fill out the form to request one and get it in as soon as possible. Otherwise, put on a mask, go to the polls, and make your voice heard. Otherwise, keep your mouth shut and don’t complain about the outcome. Voting is your right and your responsibility in a democracy.