Today's Paper Digital FAQ Obits Newsletters Enter the Fish Story Contest 🎣 NWA Vaccine Information NWA Screening Sites Virus Interactive Map Coronavirus FAQ Crime Razorback Sports Today's Photos Puzzles

GREG HARTON: Absentee or not, voting a necessity

by Greg Harton | August 16, 2020 at 1:00 a.m.

I haven't yet decided whether I'm going to apply to receive an absentee ballot for the Nov. 3 election.

According to the Arkansas Secretary of State's office, requesting the ballot by mail or electronic means must be done at least seven days before the election. Doing it in person (or sending someone as a "designated bearer") can happen all the way up to the day before the election, so why not save everyone the potential trouble and just make a decision well before that?

Going to my polling place to cast my votes remains, to me, an act that still evokes a level of civic pride. Has civic pride become an outdated notion in the 21st century? Am I at risk of being labeled as corny or old-fashioned because I find satisfaction in joining American now and since the nation's founding in dropping my vote into today's technological ballot box?

The next two and a half months will inspire a lot of grandstanding, probably on both the Democratic and Republican sides, even though Joe Biden may have every reason in the world to just let Trump be Trump.

The presidential decision will be big, of course. Every presidential election is "the most important election in our lifetime" and I'm sure this one will be described that way plenty. Maybe it is.

Trump vs. Biden (vs. Kanye West?) isn't the only decision, though. The ballot will feature state representatives and senators, a race for the Third Congressional District in Congress, quorum court and city council posts, and even a smattering of school board races. And, yes, there's a Libertarian (Ricky Harrington Jr.) running against first-term Commie-attacking Sen. Tom Cotton. The Democrats botched any chance when it could muster only one candidate, and he dropped out two hours after the filing period ended in a politically pathetic performance. Unless there's a shocking development, get ready for six more years of Sen. Cotton.

The governor has made it clear that concern about covid-19 is an adequate excuse to get an absentee ballot, which might be the smart move right now since we don't know what November will look like.

The reality is, the form of the ballot isn't as important as the act of voting. Does voting solve everything? Clearly not. But civic involvement is crucial to guiding communities, the state and nation through these tough times. And voting is the minimum requirement of civic involvement.

School officers revisited

Fayetteville City Council member Teresa Turk has asked her colleagues to reconsider their misguided rejection of a $250,000 federal grant to help add two city-hired police officers to Fayetteville Public School facilities. Turk argues wisely that the school board, entrusted with educating and protecting the community's children, deserves to have their wishes respected. The officers would be added at no cost to the city and added benefit to the public schools.

The matter comes up at Tuesday's City Council meeting. Two weeks ago, council members Sarah Marsh, Matthew Petty, Sloan Scroggin, Kyle Smith and Sonia Gutierrez voted to reject the grant and new officers. Sarah Bunch, Mark Kinion and Turk favored the grant and adding the officers. Mayor Lioneld Jordan backed the measure, but that was rendered moot when Marsh switched her vote from a "yes" to a "no."

The city should leap at the chance to add these officers while the federal government picks up a big portion of the tab. They solve nothing by pretending Fayetteville doesn't need officers or ignoring the request (and $342,900 in funding) by school district officials.

Call me skeptical, but I doubt the five who rejected the grant will figure out by Tuesday they don't have to sacrifice these officers to their recently heightened sensibilities on other important matters. Fayetteville can walk and chew gum at the same time.

Greg Harton is editorial page editor for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Contact him by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @NWAGreg.


Sponsor Content