Friday, October 22, 2010

I voted, did you?

No, I'm not going to blog about politics, who I voted for, or why. I never do. People who really want to know can ask me directly. I'm blogging about voting, and how every American citizen should either have mailed in their ballot, voted early, or made plans to vote on Election Day by now. Because this is the real instance in which a person's political opinion matters. I smile in a very annoying, condescending manner at anyone who's got an opinion on politics and doesn't vote, and you know, every recipient of this smile deserves it.

The midterm election is coming up, as everyone should know. I'll go ahead and post some really basic stuff about voting, just in case anyone reading this is doing it for the first time or, heaven forbid, doesn't know this stuff. You should have registered by now with your County Clerk. If not, register so you can vote next election. The County Clerk's website is also where you can find a sample ballot so that you can see what you will be voting on. READ IT, please. I'm always stunned when I hear people talk with surprise about ballot initiatives they didn't know about, etc. The information is there, get it, and start looking up the stuff you don't understand before you cast your ballot.

For further information on the candidates, one easy place to go is the website for your local chapter of the League of Women Voters. They provide each candidate with a questionnaire, and publish the candidates answers in downloadable PDFs available through their site. Also, it doesn't hurt to Google a candidate's name, read their website, etc. Whenever viewing any kind of ad for a candidate, always check to see who sponsored it. Be aware of bias.

If you start early enough, it should be feasible to meet the candidate. Some will do town hall meetings that you can go to, or for very local offices, you can often find the person's email address - make sure to use it only if it appears somewhere like on their official site. If it does, feel free to get in touch, ask them what they think, etc. Make sure to read the materials they've put out so that you don't ask them redundant questions they've answered publicly.

Also realize that you can leave parts of your ballot blank if you want to. It's better to leave a choice blank than to close your eyes and pick at random if you don't know either candidate, or can't understand the wording of the proposition or ballot initiative. I leave sections blank when I am truly indifferent, such as for ballot initiatives that don't directly affect me, or for races where I know both candidates and really would be happy with either, or am so disgusted with them both that I'd rather have neither.

As you can tell, I feel very strongly about voting. I'll tell anyone who'll listen to go do it, even when I know it means getting my own vote cancelled out. This is a democracy, but in order to be counted as a full citizen, everyone's got the responsibility to participate. It's the 22nd of October. Do you know where your polling location is?

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