Elections & Politics: No Longer Privy to the Secret Ballot

Here's one more thing Republicans and Democrats can't agree on: Whether to continue to use the facilities at the Willow Springs, Texas, precinct, which lacks indoor plumbing. This and more election news is below.

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Our hometown newspaper, The Fayette County (Texas) Record, reports this week on the intersection of an outhouse and politics.

Some readers may think the connection is obvious, but wait. The Record’s Andy Behlen reports that Republicans living in Willow Springs, Texas, will have to drive to Fayetteville March 1 to vote. People liked voting in Willow Springs, at the Minssen Store. In 2012, 75 percent of registered voters turned out.

Trouble is, the Minssen Store doesn’t have an indoor toilet. It does have an outhouse, one with a concrete floor, in fact, and that has served everyone for years. (A photo in the newspaper reveals that the Minssen Store outhouse is equipped with a wooden seat; we’re not sure how that fit into everyone’s calculations.)

Those facilities have been deemed unworthy, however, and so the Republicans are moving to the more upscale environs of Fayetteville.

Democrats are apparently made of sterner stuff and they are standing pat. They will bring in a portable toilet for election day, however.


After New Hampshire, we’re now on to the next two locales in the primary season, South Carolina and Nevada. These states are said to be more “diverse,” since they have larger numbers of African Americans and Latinos than Iowa and New Hampshire.

But diverse does not mean rural.

Nevada has only 5.8 percent of its population living in rural areas, the 48th most rural state in the country. In South Carolina, 33.7 percent of the population lives in rural areas, making it the 17th most rural state in the country.

As always, the Daily Yonder will have the rural/urban breakdown for both the Republican and Democratic primaries.

And then we’ll go to the large group of Southern states (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Texas, Virginia and Tennessee) voting on March 1, the so-called SEC primary.

The Tennessean (Nashville’s newspaper) looks ahead to what could be a very important day. David Plazas writes:

“Many of the contradictions of Southern politics make these states ripe for both Democrats and Republicans: typically very red Legislatures with liberal or “Blue Dog” Democratic mayors in urban centers — a consequence of the tensions between rural, suburban and urban communities with diametrically opposing views on guns, social issues, infrastructure investment and Medicaid expansion.”


The Postal Service reported good results over the last three months of 2015. Revenues were up 3.3 percent over the same period in 2014, to $19.3 billion.

In fact, the Postal Service made money, showing a profit of $1.3 billion. And profit remained after the service deducted $1.45 billion owed to the Retiree Health Benefit Fund.

But Save The Post Office tells us that there is still trouble for this vital link for rural communities. The volume of first class mail continues to decline, revenue that is being offset by increases in shipping and mailed packages. But a surcharge granted by Congress is about to end and that will send the Postal Service back into deficit again. Congress has not taken any action to retain the charge that is bringing financial stability to the nation’s mail system.


welfareforthewealthyChris Faricy has written a new book titled “Welfare for the Wealthy.” The point of the book is that Republicans have expanded federal “spending,” but on the wealthy rather the poor. The Washington Post’s John Sides has an interview with Faricy, a Syracuse University political scientist.

Faricy says:

“The United States government spends more on social welfare programs per capita than most European countries once we include both traditional public spending and tax subsidies. But contrary to European welfare states, benefits are not concentrated on the poor in the U.S.

“In essence, there are two American welfare states. A public one built primarily by Democrats that serves the elderly and the poor and a private one built by both parties but expanded by Republicans that provides welfare to the wealthy.”


UPDATE: A bill is working its way through the Colorado state senate that could make it easier for rural residents to vote.

According to the Pueblo Chieftain, “The bill allows voters to opt out of automatically receiving a mailed ballot and instead vote in person at a physical polling center. It also authorizes the secretary of state to purchase one secure drop box and surveillance camera for each county, using federal funds awarded through the “Help America Vote Act.”

State Sen. Larry Crowder, a Republican, is pushing the measure. It passed a committee on a party line vote.



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