(Denver, Colorado) – With only a day until the 2020 U.S. presidential election, voters in Harris County, Texas are clamoring to the polls, many waiting hours in line to cast their vote. After watching what was happening on the news, Colorado business owner Jim Burness wanted to help.
“We weren’t sure how we could make a difference, but we knew we had to try,” Burness shared and after a few hours of brainstorming, he had an idea. “We knew lots of companies would be sending water and offering food, but I wanted to find another way to keep people in line. I was most concerned about seniors and those with health issues, so we packed up a bunch of camp chairs and shipped them to Texas.”
In fact, it was more than “a bunch”. Mr. Burness and his wife cleaned out their local Walmart and shipped a huge pallet of camp chairs to Texas. Unable to travel and distribute the chairs himself, he decided to reach out to the Rice University Young Democrats for help.
“We were blown away by the gesture and definitely wanted to find a way to make this happen,” Alissa Kono shared, a junior studying social policy analysis at Rice and President of the university’s Young Democrats. The group, who’s actively engaged in getting the vote out on campus, has also been phone banking and actively reaching out to the community to ensure everyone gets to the polls and is up to date on the issues. “This election is too important not to vote, but even beyond that voting is a huge responsibility and privilege, and everyone needs to get out there and exercise their voice.”
Nearly 1.4 million Houston area residents have already cast their ballots in early voting, exceeding the number that turned out for the 2016 election. This surge, without question, is a response to the presidential race, but also related to the challenges Harris County voters found in 2016. Even though they continue to see long lines, Harris County officials have done everything in their power to make voting more accessible by expanding voting hours and tripling the number of voting locations, the lines continue to be long. While local officials actively want to ensure their constituents are able to vote, the newly blue county leadership, also recognized the nation’s third largest county with record breaking turnout could play a pivotal role in the election – potentially, tipping Texas for Biden.
While Mr. Burness is an active Colorado Democrat, he’s equally a strong believer in exercising your right to vote – so much so, he is closing his offices on November 3rd. “I made the decision to make Election Day a staff holiday, not only because I wanted to give everyone the opportunity to vote, but also because so many wanted to get involved as poll watchers, dropping off ballots for the elderly or making phone calls,” he shared. “Do I want to see Biden victory? Absolutely, but regardless of party, no