Corner Column

By Phil Major
Posted 3/10/22

Thanks to a calendar anomaly that comes around every 28 years, the Mineola City Council found itself virtually hidden from the audience at last Monday’s meeting.

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Corner Column


Thanks to a calendar anomaly that comes around every 28 years, the Mineola City Council found itself virtually hidden from the audience at last Monday’s meeting.

A row of voting machines blocked the view despite the council dais being a few feet above floor level. The machinery also displaced the city staff which normally sits at a small conference table between the council and audience. So they were forced to join us common folk in the less comfortable chairs.

There was even yellow caution tape cordoning off the machines as an additional warning not to mess with them.

I wasn’t paying attention when we rose for the prayer and pledges so wasn’t quite sure council member Eric Carrington was present until the first vote, when I could see the tips of the fingers on his raised hand.

Most of the others I could bob and weave and see at least partially.

The reason? The council meets on the fourth Monday of the month and the state party primary elections are on the first Tuesday of March. Every 28 years this puts the council meeting on the eve of the primary, when the last Monday of the month is also the last day of the month. This can happen only in February with 28 days. And it can’t happen during Leap Year when February gets one extra day after the fourth Monday. So no conflict during presidential election years.

The folks running the polling location at city hall had set up for the next day’s grueling 12-hour shift, and with a roomful of folks, they apparently had to stick around to ensure that no nefarious activity took place. After all, voter fraud is a thing, right?

This may have been the only time that this phenomenon has ever happened.

The last time the dates fell this way, in 1994, the council was meeting earlier in the month, while the Texas primaries were held on the second Tuesday of March. I suppose it is possible somewhere in the past that this conflict could have arisen on other dates, but as far as this particular date pattern, that would have been the last time it could have happened. Prior to that was in 1966, and we don’t have Monitors from that year to check it out.

In 1994 I’m fairly confident that voting machines were not yet being used here, so nothing so extensive as a row of voting machines would have been required to be set up in advance – just a box or two of ballots, a box to secure the ballots cast and all the attendant paperwork.

My wife served as an election judge in Clay County for a few years, so I am sympathetic to what they go through leading up to and what is involved on Election Day. It’s a very long day.

The next time these dates coincide is in 2050, and who knows what voting method will be employed by then. Perhaps we will be able to vote from home on some sort of computer device or maybe even through some sort of implant. Who knows? If I am fortunate enough to still be around, I’ll try to remember to check back.

I asked the city secretary if she had scheduled a reminder to avoid another potential conflict. I’m not sure she thought that was funny; or perhaps she just hopes to be long retired by then.