I will vote later today, I will walk over to my polling place after I come home from work – all the way across the street – and then walk home for dinner and the rest of my evening. I used to vote when I dropped off my kids for school, or picked them up, once I was working full time. Having polling places that are accessible is a wise move. People are more likely to participate in something that fits in with their routine.
Way back when I turned 18, long before these kerfuffles about voter id laws, my birthday was in October and I went in to vote with my parents a few weeks later in November – I registered right there. I was excited to participate, and hadn’t given much thought to the specific candidates or races until the moment when I pulled the curtain to close myself into the booth – other than governor. (It wasn’t a presidential election year.) It was one of those old machines with levers – including one that would allow me to vote straight ticket. One swipe and I could be done, having performed my civic duty. I was a bit dismayed that there were so many different races. And incumbents and opponents. I hadn’t prepared myself.
At that moment I realized that my right to vote, just like a lot of other things in life, was complex and required more from me than a bit of time and effort on Election Day. If I voted strictly based on party affiliation I could be voting for a person who wasn’t qualified. That didn’t sit quite comfortably with me, even then when I was still new to the adult world and believed that everyone acted with good intentions.
The newspaper has become a great ally in my quest to be a regular voter. I believe strongly in the importance of participation. Without the newspaper it would be much more difficult to be an informed participant. Who is running against whom, why, what do they stand for or against? So many names flow in front of us in TV ads, on flyers and bill boards and yard signs. The candidates don’t always tell us the basics – what office are they seeking, what party do they represent, what reasoning do they offer? Our Founding Fathers expected citizenry to be informed and act accordingly. (We won’t consider their understanding of human nature today.)
Regardless of each voter’s level of information on the candidates and issues, participation is a basic element. Without it, what can we expect?
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