Last updated 11/29/2022 at 5:46pm
I am absolutely convinced that some of us were born with an extra gene that commits us to following politics in great detail. As a victim of such plague, you may be assured that I always look forward to enjoying the privilege of casting my vote. I always do so as early as possible because I would be greatly disappointed to pass on to the next world without having expressed my wise view of who should be running the country in my absence.
Recent elections have involved various claims of fraud. The few items of fraud that have been discovered would not have changed any election. There were claims of ballot stuffing, illegal absentee voting, rigged machines and even one claim that some voting machines were manipulated by aliens. No fraud could be shown in over sixty trips to federal courts. There seems to be no doubt, however, that there is a Republican effort to reduce the number of voters. The efforts of this strategy are having little, or no effect because people are voting in higher numbers anyway. Some of those efforts include providing fewer voting places, stricter requirements to cast an absentee ballot and requiring a picture ID for the first time. One of the latest efforts was abolishing the ability to cast one vote by voting for all members nominated by a particular party. The theory as explained to me is that the Democratic Party was composed of lesser educated members who would have a harder time sorting out candidates individually in a long list of Democratic nominees; this too has little or no effect.
Finally, the most harmful thing having a devastating and anti-democratic effect on voting is gerrymandering. Both parties are guilty. After a census, states are required by the U. S. Supreme Court to draw districts in a compact, contiguous manner with approximately equal population. The following election after the census the winning party will draw the districts in a manner that assures members of that party are elected. This, in fact, cuts off the discussion of competing ideas and often has a result of electing a representative to a district whose views do not square with a majority of the district. One bad example of gerrymandering was with the Fourth Senatorial District which I once represented. In order to assure the election of one of my Republican successors the district was altered to the point that the Speaker of the House claimed the outline of the district looked a lot like an amoeba under a microscope. The Fourth Senatorial District at that time began northwest of Houston on the north side of I-10, stretched to the coast, ran along the coast including a portion of Chambers County in which there were no people and took in Jefferson County.
While in the Legislature I proposed creating commissions to reapportion districts, fairly and in compliance with the Supreme Court guidelines, but have since changed my mind. I believe there is room for computerized drawing of districts fairly composed of roughly the same number of people and in a compact way associating folks with a common interest in so far as possible.
There is one area which I do without reservation believe that party voting be abolished and that is the case of judicial elections. Judges are prohibited in participating in partisan politics and their job is supposed to be based purely on the law, not on political considerations. Judges should be voted on individually. When we lose sight of the job, we would like to have judges to do, free from partisan politics, we only need to look as far as the U. S. Supreme Court to see how bad some of the results can be.
Judges are not supposed to be political, in fact are prohibited from participating in political efforts on behalf of anyone other than themselves. What a person’s politics are should be absolutely have no bearing on how they apply the law. Fortunately for us, here in Southeast Texas throughout my many years of practicing law, I have found that the judges of any political persuasion are generally fair enough to call them the way they see them in applying the law even-handedly. I see nothing whatsoever in having a separate section on the ballot to allow the voter to select all of the members of one party and another to where they can individually cast a ballot for one to perform a judicial function. More than likely, this among my other great ideas will pass unheeded.