With the Nov. 6 General Election approaching with the speed of a runaway freight train, many candidates as well as the state and national political parties are proclaiming to citizens they should do their civic duty and get out to vote.
It’s a concept drummed into public school students beginning at an early age and it only accelerates as they start to study civics, history and government by whatever name such courses are given.
Look at a print editorial column or switch on the TV or radio, stream an opinion show, hit the Internet or use whatever other media tool is at hand. If it involves politics, the overriding message is the fate of the nation depends on not only how — but if — potential voters make the effort to actually get out and go to the polls.
Republicans warn of dire straits if the threatened blue wave comes to pass.
On the other side of the aisle — which seems more like an unbreachable abyss at this point on the national political scene — are Democrats, with their frantic warnings of an encroaching red tide.
With so much seemingly at stake in this election at the national and state levels, and with so much encouragement for voters to actually get out and vote, one might think government would do all it can to make voting easier.
Yes, one might think that — but one might be wrong.
It all goes back to the redrawing of lines which designate boundaries for both federal and state legislative offices. It’s also done in McAlester to designate new ward boundaries in the city.
Redistricting — or, as some might call it, gerrymandering — is set to be done every 10 years based on the returns on the most recent census. Since the last one occurred in 2010, the next is slated for 2020.
Federal law requires redrawn districts to have approximately equal populations and also prohibits discrimination based on an individual’s race or ethnic background.
Despite those requirements, lawmakers involved in redrawing the lines still have plenty of opportunity for mischief.
Some Pittsburg County residents who live in the Frink-Chambers area are still bewildered as to the supposed logic behind the last bout of redistricting by state legislators that resulted in Precinct 40 voters now having to drive all the way to McAlester to cast a ballot at the First Assembly of God Church in McAlester, when previously they could vote much closer to home.
It seems political expediency — and not voter empathy — is too often what drives the oft-bewildering results.
Here’s some advice, that hopefully will be followed, but probably won’t be, when the next round of legislative/Congressional redistricting begins following the 2020 Census.
This time, think of the voters first, and what inconveniences — and figurative roadblocks — you may be putting in the paths of those who simply want to cast their ballots without undertaking an epic journey to do so.
One more thing. Try to keep the mischief-making at a minimum.