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Please go vote; deadline is Tuesday evening

Have you voted yet? Early balloting and vote-by-mail ballots are available now, so if you haven’t cast your vote yet you have until 8 p.m. on Tuesday to get the job done. In all candor, I don’t give a big furry rodents behind who anyone else votes for, what is important to me is that everyone show up and do the job.

In other countries men and especially women are denied the privilege of selecting who occupies the big chair in government. The apathy shown by people who don’t bother to vote in this country is a national embarrassment. Don’t be part of the shame. Go vote!

In addition to being part of the process that decides who will inhabit 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the next four years there are races for Senate, Congress, Assembly, local and Madera Irrigation District candidates on this ballot. Additionally there are 16 state and local ballot measures to be voted.

The people who are running around talking about how this could be a historic election resulting in the first female president are correct but they are engaging in mass hyperbole. Every election is historic, every day is historic. That is how history works.

While I have always been a registered Democrat I have occasionally drifted across the aisle to the dark side to vote Republican. The older I get the less likely I am to vote for the candidates of my party.

I’m glad I don’t live in Fresno and have to vote its ballot. The airwaves have been overloaded with negative campaign ads that would have viewers believe every candidate on the ballot is a crook and a liar.

Each election cycle I am honored to be a part of the process by working as a stringer for the Associated Press. I get to be the person who calls the AP offices in Washington State to report on how Madera County has cast its votes.

Prior to the Internet on election night the hallways of the government center outside the county clerk’s office were filled with people waiting for the vote count. The pay phones in the hallway were shared by any number of news people and representatives from local races to report back to the candidates on how the votes were tallying. In some cases, typically in small races, the candidates themselves would be waiting in the hall for election news.

Now the website will post the unofficial vote tally updated as the ballots are counted.

At 8 p.m. on election night the first total of the night is released. This total is comprised of all vote-by-mail ballots received in the clerk’s office prior to noon on election day.

These ballots used to be called “absentee,” ballots and the requirement to cast this type of ballot had statutes that must be adhered to in order to qualify. As the population has increased there are now residents in remote or sparsely populated areas of the county that have no choice but to vote by mail.

To those who are voting by mail a Number 2 pencil or a blue or black ink ballpoint pen should be used to mark your ballot. Felt tipped pens or other colors of ink are invisible to the counting machine.

Adjacent to each candidate’s name is a square “bubble,” like those seen on the “Scan-Tron,” testing answer sheet. These small boxes should be filled in next to the name of the candidate of your choice. On the ballot measures a Yes or No box should be marked in the same manner. Check marks or “X’s” cannot be seen by the balloting machines. Ballots marked incorrectly must be hand counted and will not be included in the election night unofficial results.

After the election all ballots cast are recounted in the 30-day period after the election during a process known as canvass. At that time the ballot machines recount all the cards again including duplicates of the ones that have been marked incorrectly. A random percentage of the ballots are also hand-counted to verify the machines are accurate. Every action taken, every time a county employee interacts with the ballots there are witnesses so no one is ever alone with the ballots.

Fun fact: the Madera County Clerk never declares winners in any of the races in her charge. All she does is report who gets how many votes and this information is submitted to California Secretary of State Alex Padilla. He is the person who officially declares the winners in each race.

Madera has grown through the years and our balloting system has changed accordingly. I am confident that our long-time county clerk Becky Martinez has conducted each of the elections in the 40 plus years of her rein in a fair and honest manner. As an elected official she never personally handles any ballots other than her own. For Martinez, supervising her staff and the mechanics of conducting a fair and impartial election is all that matters.

I have unwavering confidence in her because we played in the same sandbox and climbed on the same monkey bars at James Monroe Elementary School. She and I went through kindergarten, elementary, junior high and high school together. Our county is lucky to have her. She is the living institutional memory of the last 40 years of the Madera County Clerk’s Office.

Have a great weekend and please remember to vote.

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