Election

For One Disenfranchised Dallas Voter, the System Failed to Deliver

Jody O'Callaghan didn't make it through the maze in time.
Jody O'Callaghan didn't make it through the maze in time. Dallas Observer
While you spent last night glued to election results, Jody O’Callaghan soaked her frustration with Dallas County’s voting process in a Colorado hot tub.

“I’m furious,” she said. “Because of a bogus system that’s beyond broken, my voice wasn’t heard. It’s my right, my responsibility and my privilege to vote. But it was all taken away.”

We first detailed O’Callaghan’s voting voyage a couple of weeks ago. When COVID cratered her therapy/counseling business run out of her Rowlett home in eastern Dallas County, she was forced to take a Plan B career as a flight attendant for Utah-based SkyWest Airlines. Desperate to vote, she commenced an odyssey to cast an absentee, mail-in ballot.

One day before the deadline to request an absentee ballot, he headed to the Salt Lake City public library where she printed an application and then to a nearby FedEx where she faxed the form to the Dallas County Elections Office. She received a physical confirmation of the fax being received, further verified when she called the office.

“I thought that was it,” O’Callaghan said. “I was expecting a ballot to be mailed to me right after that.”

Problem.

"I thought i could trust the post office. I thought I could trust our system.” – disappointed voter Jody O’Callaghan

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“But they asked where the hard copy was,” she said. “They said they had to receive it within four days of getting my fax. I was like, ‘How many more hoops are you going to make me jump through?’”

To fortify her confirmed fax, O’Callaghan made a plan to send the original document to Dallas. She consulted her brother, a U.S. mail carrier in Portland, Oregon.

“He told me it should take two days, three tops,” she said. “Unfortunately, now I know all too well that all these stories about post offices delaying ballots are real.”

When O’Callaghan called the Dallas County Elections Office four days later, she was told her mailed form hadn’t arrived. Even if it eventually did, it would be invalid.

“Probably wound up in the trash,” she said. “Ultimately, I was derelict. I should’ve paid to have it sent certified mail or overnighted. But I thought I could trust the post office. I thought I could trust our system.”

Deflated but not defeated, O’Callaghan tried alternative plans.

She inquired with Utah election officials about a federal “limited ballot” that would allow her to cast a vote in the national election but not local contests.

“They kind of laughed and said they ran out of those a long time ago,” O’Callaghan said.

She then spread the word about her conundrum to SkyWest flight attendants, in hopes of switching shifts and being able to fly to Dallas on Nov. 3. Another strikeout. She was given a four-day trip on this week’s schedule, and no takers to swap.

“I considered just blowing it all off and going back to vote,” O’Callaghan said. “But if I don’t show up to work, I lose my job.”

So instead of watching her vote count last night, she attempted to relax in the warm water of a hotel in Grand Junction, Colorado, before working a late flight to Butte, Montana.

Who would O’Callaghan have voted for?

“Biden,” she said. “That’s what makes this whole thing more frustrating. I want Trump out of office. I want better for America.”
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Richie Whitt
Contact: Richie Whitt