voting during covid-19: Primary Runoff Guide for Comal County Voters

VOTING IN-PERSON? HERE’S WHAT TO EXPECT

  • VOTE EARLY!  Primary Runoff begins June 29 – July 10 (polls closed July 3rd & 4th).
    Election Day is July 14th.
  • Click on THIS LINK for locations, dates & times for Early Voting and Election Day
  • Remember:  As a registered voter in Comal County, you can vote at any polling location in Comal County.
  • Health and safety of Election Workers and Voters
    • For each polling location, the Elections office has installed plexi-glass shields on the qualifying/check in table as an additional barrier
    • Poll Pads will be sanitized after each voter is qualified
    • ALL polling sites will have social distancing floor markers
    • No more than 5 voters in the actual voting area at any time
    • Voters will be provided with hand sanitizer + instruments for no-contact voting, such as finger cots and/or disposable stylus to sign in and to use on voting machine to cast your vote. 
    • Hygiene specialists hired for purposes of sanitizing voting equipment, will do so after each voter has cast their ballot in order to prepare the equipment for the next voter. 
    • Please be patient!  Comal County Democrats only have 2 races to decide on: Senate and Railroad Commissioner.  Please try to make your candidate choice BEFORE you go to a polling place.  You’ll be in and out in no time.

Let’s make this a successful and SAFE voting experience for everyone.  We’ll see what happens next (SCOTUS case) for November’s General Election. Stay tuned!

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF STONEWALL

June 28 – July 3rd, 1969 marks a point in time where everything changed. Now, 51 years later, and while June has become known as Pride Month, typically marked with parades and events celebrating the LGBTQ+ community as a whole, it’s important to remember that Pride started off as a protest. The parallels to the events following the murder of George Floyd is inescapable, especially amid the ongoing Black Lives Matter rallies and demonstrations against systemic racism and police brutality all across the country.

1969 was a summer of upheaval, of change. While some of us were in Berkeley out in the Bay Area and still reeling from the after effects of People’s Park just a few weeks before, the Stonewall riots – no revolution! – began as a result of ongoing police raids at New York City’s Stonewall Inn, one of the only safe spaces where LGBTQ+ people could gather in community.

As George M. Johns  writes in them. “Pride is and always was about rebellion, and this year more than ever, this year, Pride is different.  It’s not a corporate parade or a party. It’s an uprising, and it’s up to white queer people to protect the Black community as they demand justice.”  The intersectionality of Stonewall’s uprising was “Led by Black and Brown trans and queer folks” who were tired of the policing, the raids on their lives and the surveillance.  We must recognize the courage of Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Stormé DeLarverie, and others there that night who fought back — and fought for their lives, igniting the change for LGBTQ+ people, that this charge was largely led by people of color, poor folk who lived on the street.  Johnson and Rivera literally put themselves out there, in front of the police in a monumental moment of self-sacrifice, putting their bodies and their well-being on the line for the collective good, creating a model for activism across all movements. One of the great things about these leaders being re-centered as part of the narrative is that it has created this intersectional approach to how we should do activism.

Fast forward, and the LGBTQ+ community as well as people of all races, genders and sexualities are protesting and calling out the names of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and others, as well as Tony McDade, a black transgender man killed by the police.  By refocusing on those most marginalized, this is an enormous moment in time to see real substantial systematic progress.

GLAAD’s President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis says that the “LGBTQ movement really caught fire [with] allies coming on. We need black voices leading this, and we need the activists who have been leading this for years and years and years to point us in the right direction.”

While there’s still a long way to go, much of the Movement’s groundwork for a blueprint of how we should move forward was laid by such activists as Angela Davis, Audre Lorde, James Baldwin, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and others.

And our conversations have changed as a result. Now we’re talking more about why we should center black lives in this conversation because everyday people are taking to challenging these conversations at their own dinner tables. Those changes could lead to a larger cultural and political shift that leads to redirecting millions of dollars put into police departments to other, much-needed programs, like education and healthcare in elevating this consciousness-raising to a mainstream level.

Stonewall helped ignite this intersectional movement, one in which Black Lives Matter is intertwined.  We must all think about the narrative of where we’ve come from and to realize that starting exactly where we are, at our kitchen tables with our families, our communities, our chosen loved ones, this is where those conversations start. And from there, we can build on being activists or to be a co-conspirator to the Movement. But we must act; we must be consistent, and we must do the uncomfortable work of checking and challenging conversations.

Personally, I hold great hope for the leaders who are even now organizing and creating new paradigms of engagement, building a community greater than its parts.  Yet, reflecting about the many insurrections against authority that arose in the 1960s, People’s Park in Berkeley – the one I had great hope for at the time –  is probably the only one that came to no discernible conclusion. Nobody won, and after more than 50 years the rallying cry of “People’s Park” lives on because the plot of land is still undeveloped and continues to be in dispute.

LIVING WHILE BLACK: THE NARRATIVE OF RACIAL DIFFERENCES

In the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen the good in our community, across the country, and even the world, take a stand for social and racial justice.  It’s time.  No, It’s waaaaayyyyy past time for us to not only examine ourselves in this process, but the systems of inequities that brought us to this moment.  Yet, these false and racist narratives we must face didn’t spring up overnight – or even in the past few years. 

As National Book Award Winner, Ibram X. Kendi points out in Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas  “Some Americans cling desperately to the myth that we are living in a post-racial society, that the election of the first Black president spelled the doom of racism. In fact, racist thought is alive and well in America – more sophisticated and more insidious than ever. Contrary to popular conceptions, racist ideas did not arise from ignorance or hatred. Instead, they were devised and honed by some of the most brilliant minds of each era. These intellectuals used their brilliance to justify and rationalize deeply entrenched discriminatory policies and the nation’s racial disparities in everything from wealth to health. And while racist ideas are easily produced and easily consumed, they can also be discredited.”

How can white people begin to deconstruct racism?  We can start with the language of white supremacy.  And what I mean by this as Baratunde Thurston explores in his May 2019 TED talk, is “the system of structural advantage that favor white people in social, political, and economic arenas” this “narrative of racial difference” where we’ve accepted “the phenomenon of white Americans calling the police on black Americans who have committed the crimes of “living while black” where mere “existence” is interpreted as “crime”. Thurston’s profound, thought-provoking, and often hilarious talk reveals the power of language to change stories of trauma into stories of healing — while challenging us all to level up. Please give this a look/listen, give it some thought, and act. We can build a more inclusive world and write a better (hi)story.

Post Script: May, 2020 Living While Black: One Year Later…

IMPLICIT BIAS: How do We Change?

Implicit: implied though not plainly expressed. Bias: prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.

ANYONE who reads this has attitudes towards people or associates stereotypes with them without our conscious knowledge.  Harsh?  Uncomfortable? Ok, but no one arrives at a certain point in their lives without this common behavior we all share.  It’s part of our social cognition that occurs because of the brain’s natural tendency to look for patterns and associations in the world.  And before you go, “Whoa, wait a minute…not me”, NONE of us (including this writer) are free from implicit bias here or anywhere else in the world. It’s a pattern that has been created for millennia – and sadly, will continue.

Sounds hopeless, right?  So, is there any possibility we can change?  Recognizing that implicit bias is insidious yet entrenched in our society and language is only one small step.  But nothing changes if we don’t find and take that path to change.

So, what can we do to change our implicit biases?   We can start by examining the language we use, for example, describing something in absolute terms: literally, black, and white.  Neither are absolute, yet this clouds our cognitive awareness when we use these nouns.  What other words could we use?  What else can we do?

We can elect people who recognize this change is necessary in not only how we personally act and react, but at every level of government. A race-informed city fosters a supportive environment for collective, community-wide racial healing and systemic, structural equity. Rooted in an understanding that government at all levels has played a role in creating and maintaining racial inequity, resulting in a lack of access and opportunity for people of color in everything from education and employment to housing and healthcare, race-informed cites seek to redress structural racism through an analysis of their own operations and make necessary changes in policy and practice.

Even though Texas ranks at the bottom in the country for healthcare and education, three of Texas’s cities have ranked highest in investing in and building the many things that make communities good places for people to not only live and work, but to thrive in an inclusive environment:  Dallas, El Paso, and San Antonio. 

We must continue to examine how these dynamically planned, designed, and managed city structures contribute to not only shape urban life and culture for the benefit of all, but also re-shape attitudes, behaviors, and communities for better outcomes.

What Defines A “Living” City on the Move?

  • Broadly Partnered: Partnering with allied parties — public, private and philanthropic — as demands for services, revitalization and social justice grow
  • Resident-Involved: Listening to diverse voices in the community to meaningfully engage residents in problem-solving conversations
  • Race-Informed: Bringing a racial equity lens to vital community discussions about solving problems and building preferred futures
  • Smartly Resourced: Prioritizing how resources are raised and allocated to support evidence-based investments in infrastructure, technology and people
  • Employee-Engaged: Doing the public’s work — from the front lines to the back office — in ways that tap employees’ creativity, expertise and spirit of service
  • Data-Driven: Seeing around corners and evaluating program performance and policy needs through analysis of the numbers

New Braunfels and Comal County communities can be a better equipped community to do what needs to be done for the public good; we must be resilient and band together.  Yet, this all  starts with electing those who will effect change and the kind of policies that will start to unravel archaic social structures and biases, and in equipping our city for whatever comes next.  

It’s not due to a federal mandate or a foundation grant or some other financial windfall, but because the people of government — elected and appointed leaders, line of business managers and frontline workers — and the community they serve, understand it’s the right thing to do.

Keep Moving Forward in 2020 and Beyond

Like my papi says, “Todo Cambia” – everything changes. 

This is truly reflective of our party and who we are as Democrats.  As the oldest voter-based political party in the world and oldest existing party here in the United States, we can trace our party’s roots back to the late 18th Century. We are the party of the “common man” – and yes, woman. And although our party’s longevity is one we can truly be proud of, it has not come without controversy, tormented segues and serious disagreements.  

Yet, here we are; a Democratic party that now stands for egalitarianism and social equality, and which supports voting rights and minority rights, including LGBTQ+ rights, multiculturalism, and religious secularism.  And we’ve been able to get to this point because we care about ourselves and others and what happens in the many tomorrows we nurture for our and our children’s future. We are the culmination – and the emissaries – of a collective goal: to leave this world in better shape than when we arrived.

While we may not always agree as to how we’re going to get there, in everything we aspire to accomplish —no matter the “ask”, the complexity, or how uncomfortable it may be at times – one thing remains constant, people do the work. People devise innovations, they resolve issues, and they inspire each other every day to meet challenges, among many other important things.  

2020 is a turning point and the year we’ll make a big difference in our county, state and across the country.  We built impetus in 2018, but we’ve got a lot to do to get out the vote (GOTV) and elect more Democrats. We’ve been doing that since 1790. 

Join us, and let’s keep moving forward in 2020 and beyond.

Gloria Meehan, Chair

Comal County Democratic Party