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Opinion: Election mail by the bundle

Sometimes when I venture out to the mailbox, I can’t help but think that if it weren’t for campaign junk mail, I’d get almost no mail at all. And since I get mail at two different addresses, I get twice as much of this stuff.

I shudder to imagine how many innocent trees lost their lives filling my mailboxes with junk mail.

It is incredibly irritating because I am one of those people who vote as soon as I get my ballot. I see no reason to wait until the last minute to make my selections. Television or by-mail ads can’t influence how I vote.

Political television commercials are so annoying. Again it is good to have profitable work for the producers, actors and camera crews, but the oatmeal they churn out is annoying.

I have worked several jobs connected with the election process. Fred and I spent many election days signing in voters and carrying the ballots to the clerk’s office after the polls closed at 8 p.m. Those were some very long days that began at 6:30 a.m. when we arrived to set up the polling place.

We got feelings of pride at being part of the uniquely American System of Governance. At the last elections we worked on, we were entrusted with picking up the ballots from Chowchilla and bringing them home for counting.

Since I started work at The Madera Tribune in 1995, I have had to step back from most election duties. A member of the fourth estate needs to stay a reasonable distance from voters lest they somehow influence them.

The campaign literature that is delivered by the US Postal Service this time of year has the addressee’s name and address printed in several places. The answer is to scribble through the identifying text, tear your name off it or shred the whole thing.

Fred would tear our name off and run that part through the shredder and then recycle the rest of the paper.

We enjoyed working the elections which by the way gets you a check from the Election Department of Madera County. Satisfying work and a stipend to make for a pleasant elections day. It’s a lot better than being outraged at the outcome of the vote. The new laws, new politicians in office and watching it all unfold on television is the other option.

These days I am stationed at the Election office from about 7:30 p.m. Before the Internet, I called my editor with periodic updates.

A second assignment requires I update the number of votes cast in Madera County for the Associated Press. I am the first step in what becomes information shared with the television and radio stations up and down the state and the rest of the country. Small-town elections can have interesting effects on other parts of the country sort of like the Butterfly Effect.”

The upside of campaign literature is the work and employment it provides to supply the paper, printing, ink, etcetera required to generate the ballots, the voter’s guides and handbooks explaining the various Propositions and Referendums under voters’ consideration.

The right to vote is more a privilege of citizenship not a burden.

Madera’s Election Department is under the supervision of our Madera County Clerk, Recorder and Registrar of Voters Rebecca Martinez. One of her most important tasks is to comply with the recently changing world of election laws and policies.

She and her staff have an enormous responsibility to ensure no voters are disenfranchised in our county.

Every voter gets a by-mail ballot with a postage-pre-paid return envelope. The vote-by-mail system gives the staff the time needed to verify the voters’ signatures on that return envelope.

The voted ballots are kept in a secure room with constant video surveillance behind a locked door. Only a few staff members are allowed to enter that vault and they must go inside in pairs.

Find those ballots, fill them out and drop them in the nearest mailbox. There are also drop boxes at the Madera County Government Center, 200 West 4th Street.

Voters can also deliver the ballots in person to the clerk’s office inside the building.

Long days and pleasant nights. Have a blessed weekend.

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Readers may contact Tami Jo Nix by emailing or following @TamiJoNix on Twitter.


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