Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Vote Early (and Often!)

My sticker from the primary election, photo by J. Berta

Greetings All:

I've got a blog post in the works about a recent (ahem) home improvement project I took on that ended, well, not as originally intended.  Although there were no power tools involved, no blood spilled and the "end result" is not that terrible, it was a not a fun day.  Later that evening, Dawn said to me, "Next time, let's hire someone."  Oh yes, next time and every (expletive-deleted) time.

I want to do that blog post justice (and be sure to poke ample fun at myself, 'cause I deserve it) so y'all will have to wait a bit.  In the meantime, here's a more serious topic:  Election Day.

Here in the U.S., November 4th is a "general election."  While we will not be electing a President, a third of the U.S. Senate, all the U.S. House of Representatives, Governors in many states, as well as other significant offices.  Folks, this is a big deal.

And unless you've been living completely off the grid, you've likely run across the dreaded "campaign ad."  It's not just on television, it's on the internet, in our mailboxes and simply put- it our faces.  It's ugly and as the Supreme Court has ruled, it's sticking around. Sigh.

There are ample reasons to be cynical about elections in general and particularly this one.  It's as if politics is this open bar of attack ads where the liquor being poured is cheep but they keep coming.  

One could raise the opinion that not a damn thing is going to change regardless of who wins this election.  The politics of gridlock resemble the trench warfare of WWI and each side's position is hardened.  No Man's Land in this case is policy creation and neither side dares venture there for long. 

However, with all that being said, please do get out and vote this election.  There are incredibly important issues at stake.  Sitting this one out may be tempting for some but please, do not.  

There are ample opportunities to vote prior to election day through early voting and voting by absentee ballot.  It's how Dawn and I voted.  We did it weeks ago and it was fast and painless.  If you're someone who likes to go to the polls on election day, then by all means, continue that tradition.  I would suggest having a plan for election day and if possible, vote early in the day.  That avoids any number of things that could come up and jinx getting to the polls.

If you do go vote in person, bring your kids.  I am aware of no prohibition of a child appearing at the polls.  I cannot think of a better civics lesson.  If you want to be completely sure it is OK, check with your Secretary of State or elections commissioner.  If you want the best of both worlds, find an early voting location and bring your kid(s) there.  You get the full election experience and can do it on your time.

Dawn and I voted absentee ballot.  It is my preferred way to vote as I am assured that whatever occurs on Election Day, my ballot is cast.  However, I also go to the polls, especially for the shall we say say, lesser-publicized elections.  The photo above is from the primary in June.

If you're reading this blog and you're in America and a registered voter, please, please vote this election.  There's the old saying, "If you don't vote, you better not complain."  That's BS, people will always complain and like that's even an enforceable threat.  No, no my friends, I'd suggest this instead:  

Vote because it's your chance to have your say.  Vote because the vile 30-second attack ads that are slowing poisoning the groundwater of our body politic cannot vote.  But you can.  Vote because it is both your right and duty.  Vote because there are so many people who wish they could.

OK, thus ends the sermon about voting this election.  Some of you might be saying, "Hey Jeno, in the title, you talk about voting early, you're not supporting voter fraud, are you?"  

To this I'll reply, "Of course not, gentle readers."  (I've always wanted to use that line.)  What I am referencing is the importance of voting in ALL elections.  My Dad has been a citizen since 1962 and in those fifty plus years, he's missed voting in one school board election.  One.  He's made all the other ones.  I wish I had that streak.  Actually, I have no streak.  I missed the park board election last month.  I wasn't alone.  I recall that there was less than 1000 votes cast in total.  Not sure what that turnout percentage was but my guess is...tiny.

And that is not surprising.  Considering that in a Presidential Election you don't get much further north of 60% in "good" year, the further down the ballot you go, the less interest there usually is.

That my friends, is an explanation, not an excuse.  I could have voted and and chose not to.  Oh sure, I can rationalize it by saying, "The park board is in good hands and I trust whomever serves."  Even if true, it's still a cop-out.  A small one in the big scheme of things but a cop-out nonetheless.  I run (albeit slowly) on the bike path and my youngest daughter loves going to several of them in my town.  I pay taxes and like to think of myself as an involved citizen.  Yet not so much for this race.  

So when I make the quip about "voting early and often," it's not about fraud but voting often in all levels of elections.  School board, municipal elections and yes, park board.  Oh sure, the national media will not cover these more provincial elections, yet they matter all the same.  Come to think of it, the more local the race, the more direct impact it has on your daily life.  From taxes to services to local ordinances, it all matters.  

Elections matter.  This one upcoming and all the future ones.

Here's to seeing you at the polls.  Unless one of us votes by mail.  

Be well my friends,

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