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These next two weeks and the requisite political columns to fill this space until after the Nov. 3 election results are in are often long, difficult and confusing times even to a column writer.

The political candidates are tired (even in a pandemic campaigning year). Tempers are sometimes frayed. Signs (big and small) are stolen, destroyed, defaced, or just, poof ... they are gone.

The TV sets are now full of national advertisements, ever so carefully toeing up to the line of decency, and some stepping a little beyond that line, to get our attention.

Our mailboxes are filled with political fliers -- more colorful, bigger and confusing than ever.

If we have not already voted, or decided upon a candidate to support in the general election, well that is where the tempers, emotions and common sense seem lacking by some people.

The upcoming elections held in Benton and Washington counties -- indeed within the state of Arkansas -- will be conducted fairly, honestly and run with integrity.

There may be some wild accusations of fraud, rampant voter suppression and mistakes on the ballots -- but believe you me -- most of such claims will be proven false or found to be wrong and most will be simply not true.

I have the utmost faith in the respective election commissions to hold an honest and fair election. They are men and women of dignity and integrity.

Will the result of the election be in early?

No, I doubt it.

Will the election results reflect what the voters voted on Nov. 3? I have to believe that is still true today as it was in past years, even past decades ago.

Will the outcome of the vote please everyone? No. It never has pleased everyone, nor should it please everyone.

That is why, Gentle Voters, we have elections.

I can only hope that people will keep their heads about them during this election cycle.

I expect the lines for early in-person voting (which started Oct. 19 and continues until Nov. 2) and in-person voting on Nov. 3 to be long.

I expect, given the safety protocols, that it will take longer to vote.

By the time this column appears in print, I, for one, will have already traveled to an early, in-person voting location and cast my ballot.

Voting in-person and putting that ballot in a ballot box is indeed a privilege that we enjoy in America.

I do not enjoy seeing campaign signs vandalized.

I do not enjoy seeing my mailbox filled with poorly written mailers attacking a political opponent by name with awkward photographs of the opponent in unflattering poses.

I detest the fact that candidates from both major political parties in our country, state and, yes, even on the local level, appear to be ashamed to send out flyers stating their true political positions.

This election season, my cell phone has rung less with robocalls (keep in mind this is written 18 days from the actual election) but my email account has been flooded with hundreds, yes, several hundred emails in late September and early October.

I am sorry the pandemic has cut out the real heart of "retail politics" as we know it in Arkansas. I miss the political rallies, the handshakes, the neck hugs and the body language we see from politicians on the "stump."

I miss the back and forth of the panel discussions. It is just not the same on Twitter or Zoom or Facebook. It just is not like sitting in an overcrowded space listening to candidates talk, as I call it, face-to-face with the voters.

For those seeking re-election and those out in the public for the first time running for office, I ask for calmness and sanity.

From the general public, we all need to be calm, take a deep breath, be considerate to our fellow man -- and vote.

•••

Maylon Rice is a former journalist who worked for several northwest Arkansas publications. He can be reached via email at [email protected] Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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