The most frustrating things are those you can’t change. Take this national election, for instance. Pretty please!

The census is America’s most immediate problem, and it appears way too many experts have had a turn at waylaying it. The U.S. Census Bureau was scheduled to continue counting through October, a minimal time frame considering all that’s happened this year, but no.

A directive from President Donald Trump forced the bureau to stop at the end of September – like next week – and exclude anyone illegally in the country. Census figures are used in redrawing congressional districts.

Lawsuits started flying over the constitutionality of limiting the impact of Latinos and immigrants of color on the apportionment process. The government attorneys argued that any extension would be too costly and burden the agency.

Isn’t that what it’s there for, to count everyone possible? Apparently not this decade, it isn’t. The only thing POTUS can’t do is exclude people by race or religion. Anything else goes. Luckily, Trump’s order got shot down by the courts, so counting continues for now.

Any number of things can and did arise to change the whole context of who gets “enumerated” for the year 2020. Early September totals showed Texas lags behind all but 10 states. That seriously affects Lone Star clout, since we’re ripe to gain at least three more congressional seats if everyone gets counted.

So if you haven’t been counted yet, do it now – by computer, or by returning your census questionnaire in the mail, by answering the door knock of an official census counter, or by visiting the Cooke County Library where someone will help you get it done. Or call it in! For English, dial 844-330-2020 and Spanish, 844-468-2020.

The population total count will determine how $1.5 trillion in federal funding is distributed and how many congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state receives.

Speaking of the 200-year-old Electoral College, that’s No. 2 on my list of inequities. When created, it was meant to up the political power of less populous slaveholding states.

The problem is that there is no federal agreement on choosing electors. States can decide by one, winner take all, or two, distribution of electors based on the actual vote, with each party receiving an apportionment of the actual vote. And all 50 states do it differently.

This mixed system is what created some massive toss-ups in presidential elections in just this century. The Y2K race between George W. Bush and Al Gore was a cliffhanger based on “hanging chads,” finally decided by the Supreme Court. President Trump lost the 2016 election by 3 million votes but won the Electoral College. It could happen again this November.

Delivery of millions of absentee ballots and getting them counted likely will delay the determination of the winner of the popular vote, and into 2021 for the convention of electors to take place and vote the new POTUS into office.

It’s going to make coming holidays miserable not knowing. Putting all elections on a level playing field should be the first vote taken by the new Congress on Jan. 20, 2021.

Which brings up No. 3. You got it – the U.S. Postal System!

This best-loved federal agency was doing OK until Trump appointed a new postmaster general to help negate the impact of mailed ballots he loathed. In May, the cogs of the delivery wheel slowed to a crawl as the budget was “tweaked.” Delivery delays aren’t the postal workers’ fault.

When I paid our September water bill, it took 10 days to be delivered from ZIP 76241 to ZIP 76241. And I shouldn’t worry about my absentee ballot arriving in time?

Any businessperson knows you can’t sucker-punch employees and expect prime performance, but Louis DeJoy’s appointment was like pushing a Mafia boss to the top of the corporate ladder. Slow mail delivery adds layers of angst to this election, for voters concerned about making their voices heard and avoiding COVID-19 exposure, plus “when-if-and-how” to deliver ballots to the elections commission.

So put a Forever stamp on the ballot and ask the postal clerk at the window to stamp it for “Local Delivery,” to keep it from going to Fort Worth for cancellation and a return trip up I-35W. Or you could take it to the elections office on Election Day to see it delivered for yourself.

Or if you’re feeling healthy, tuck the ballot in your pocket or purse, grab your ID and voter registration card and head to the polls to queue up and vote early. (Then pray that the machines are working when you arrive.) But do not vote twice as POTUS suggested. Only one vote counts, and two is a felony.

The coronavirus has made 2020 significant enough but some screw-ups were avoidable if the administration had more sense and less selfishness, and more honesty than egotism.

“It is what it is,” says our fearless leader; millions of us are on edge waiting to learn “what.” Whatever the outcome, be assured that more brawls will follow.

All those in favor of a 28th Amendment, please raise your hand and pass the petition! That’s my two cents.

Shelly Kuehn is a resident of Cooke County and a former volunteer on the Gainesville Daily Register’s reader advisory board.

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