Allegations of lies and dirty tricks are flying as people pour into the polls to cast early votes.
One of the most hard fought races involves Propositions A, B and C on the San Antonio ballot. Monday morning the faith-based community gathered to say now, more than ever, voters need to arm themselves with facts.
“The first piece of discernment is to listen well, or to read, well," Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller said. "Sometimes we just read a subtitle or a word that caught our attention and we need to really read well and to listen well in order to process information properly.”
Concerns about fair play surfaced after allegations that phone banks and poll workers are deliberately misleading voters about the effects of the three ballot initiatives. Some city and business leaders are behind a campaign urging a no vote on all three propositions, while firefighters want people to vote for the initiatives. There are allegations that a campaign is underway wrongly suggesting that a no vote supports the firefighters, when the opposite is true.
Joshua Snyder is a leader with the COPS / METRO organization and a minister at First Unitarian Universalist Church. "Confusion is intentional and I think we definitely have to take some responsibility to educate ourselves," Snyder said.
Doshie Piper, who is also a leader with COPS / METRO said: “Education and advocacy and doing your homework, not listening to robo-calls, not listening to what a friend tells you, but actually reading about the issue, talking to people that are really affected by the issue and then making an informed decision based upon what you read and your lived experiences is what’s important. That's getting to the heart of the matter.”
“There are people who are dedicated to studying those words and phrases and intentionally they want to manipulate people's decisions," Garcia-Siller said. "They put you in a trap, so we invite people to be informed, people to dialogue about what they are reading, and in dialogues find what is truthful.”
Piper said: “There's a lot of divisiveness and discord when it comes to the propositions on the ballot and a lot of maliciousness going on and citizens, voters, should not get caught up in that.”
In review of the facts, Proposition A, if approved, would change the rules for what kind of initiatives can be brought to voters, lower the number of signatures needed on petitions and give petition drives more time to gather signatures.
Proposition B would change the rules regarding the hiring, pay and term of service for any future City Manager.
Proposition C would require the city to participate in binding arbitration when contract disputes arise with the Professional Firefighters Association.
“We need to be smart. We need to be intelligent and we need at a level on conscience to be sure that our values and our principles are not broken,” Garcia-Siller said. “We, as people of faith, are saying we have common ground and we are looking for the common good.”
Piper said education and action are equally important. “You can't complain about the issue if you're not involved in the issue and I'm going to get a t-shirt made that says 'If you don't vote, then don't talk to me' because it's so important. It's vitally important,” Piper said.
Early voting ends Friday. Election day is November 6.
“Show up and vote! But discern well. Discernment is urgent. It's not just to read and react. It's read. Discern. Dialogue. Go back and forth. And then, with conscience, make a decision and show up and vote,” Garcia-Siller said.
Piper said: “Every single vote counts, but make an informed decision. That's what's important. Do your homework.”
Here is a link to the Bexar County Elections website where you can find a list of all the early voting locations.