The 415,000-plus Bexar County residents who voted early or by mail, and the anticipated 100,000 who will vote Tuesday in the Nov. 6 election are part of something bigger, something more important than our individual politics.
There is pride and tradition in going to the polls, which is why so many of us walk out sporting the “I Voted” sticker. It represents our individual commitment and also signals that we are part of a greater whole.
For me, voting is a cyclical expression of participation in the democratic process, one that people have died defending. It is a right and a privilege that citizens in undemocratic countries where I have lived and worked only dream of exercising.
There are more than 1.1 million registered voters in Bexar County, yet less than half the eligible voters will participate in this election. Nearly 600,000 eligible voters likely will not vote. My numbers come from Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen, a long-tenured public servant for the County.
Yet we are understandably excited by the turnout numbers. They are, after all, closer to those seen in a presidential election year than a midterm election.
Go vote. If you are in (the right) line by 7 p.m. you will get to vote, even if it takes until 10 p.m. In fact, Callanen said one early voting site stayed open until 9:15 p.m. to accommodate long lines that had formed by 7 p.m.
This also will be the first year, thanks to legislation signed into law in 2017, when election officials will count mail-in ballots that arrive the day after the election, recognition that the U.S. mail no longer arrives as quickly as it once did. That means we could go to bed Tuesday night not knowing the true outcome of what Callanen calls “a squeaker.”
My favorite election story published in the Rivard Report was reported and written by Emily Donaldson, our education reporter. “High School Students Visit Polls With Push From Teachers” was published Nov. 3, reflecting one more civic duty school teachers perform without general awareness or appreciation. It matters because young people who learn to vote as they reach the age of eligibility are more likely to become lifelong voters.
It also matters in the context of this letter to readers because I am asking for your vote for the nonprofit Rivard Report in the form of membership and financial support at whatever level you can comfortably contribute. We hope you find our work an indispensable source of credible nonpartisan journalism. We don’t tell you who to vote for, but we are a voice for civic participation. It is central to our mission and ethos, and reflected in our journalism and civic engagement events, like this week’s inaugural San Antonio CityFest.
We ask for your vote now because November and December are the two months at year’s end when we focus on growing membership and asking existing individual and business members to renew. It’s also the time of year when many individuals and organizations make their giving decisions.
From now until year’s end, the Rivard Report, as a member of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Nonprofit News, will be working to earn a matching gift from NewsMatch, a national call-to-action that supports nonprofit media. Every dollar new members contribute, and every additional dollar existing members donate, gets matched by participating national foundations, doubling the impact here. NewsMatch will match your new monthly donations 12 times or double your one-time gift, up to $1,000.
My colleagues are talented and passionate about their work. Everyone here shares a commitment to public service journalism and to the community. We are your neighbors, your friends, your fellow San Antonians. We know that a more informed, more connected city is a better city.
We have made great strides as a news organization in 2018. One highlight was hiring Managing Editor Graham Watson-Ringo, who oversees our news staff and daily report. Graham came to us after working as the executive producer at expressnews.com, the digital paywall site of the San Antonio Express-News.
In a recent note to newsletter subscribers, Graham shared this anecdote:
“I interviewed a potential editor recently, and a moment from that afternoon continues to resonate with me and demonstrate how impactful the Rivard Report can be for our community.
“After taking a tour of our new office in St. Paul Square, meeting the writers and other editors, and learning about the Rivard Report mission, he turned to me in a private moment and asked, ‘Is this place real?’
“I could relate to his reaction.
“The Rivard Report is different than any other outlet in this city. It’s a site with news and community happenings and commentaries from ordinary people who have something poignant to say. The Rivard Report is focused on engaging its readers, starting conversations, and creating an environment of (mostly) civil discourse. It’s refreshing to read because in a close-knit city like San Antonio, quality, balanced journalism creates awareness, which sparks conversations and those conversations can ultimately raise the quality of the place we live.
“In my four months with the Rivard Report, I’ve seen the passion, the drive, and the unwavering commitment our journalists have for telling community-driven stories and serving the people of this city.”
We do need your active support to sustain what we have built. We appreciate each and every reader in our growing audience, but it’s the members who supplement the revenue we earn from curated advertising, from foundations and philanthropists, and from our events. Long term, our well-being will be measured by our membership.
San Antonio is where we live and work and where we strive to be of service to our city. We ask for your vote today. Let’s keep public service journalism part of our local democratic experience. Click here to securely donate.