Wednesday, March 21, 2012

You DIDN'T Vote? Well...

...then don't gag over your morning coffee to see that our city's tax referendum (increasing sales tax by 1%) passed.

Because YOU didn't vote.

...then don't sigh over your morning newspaper when you read that some politician with ethics charges pending against her actually won in her district.

Because YOU didn't vote.

...then don't scream at your TV at another round of endless presidential candidate bloviation via commercial since there's still no nominee for the opposing party.

Because YOU didn't vote.

...then don't complain to me about the local Park Board (and by the way: REALLY? Are those LIFE appointments???) because "your guy" didn't get in.

Because YOU didn't vote.

We had a primary day yesterday. I was up before the chickens because I chose to be an Election Judge; a job I take very seriously. It's exhausting work because you are stuck at the polling place from 5 a.m. till 7:30 p.m. (polls close at 7 p.m., but it takes about 1/2 hour for you to tear down and properly shut down the voting machines) and then I got to drive the supplies and the voter box back to the Clerk's Office. I got home about 8:30 p.m.

For this, in a few months, I'll get about $100. That's about $6.25 per hour. I certainly don't do this for the money, since I do have a full-time job. I do it because that's my way of getting involved.

And I can tell you, on a local level, involvement means getting in the voting booth.

Involvement STARTS well before that, however. Involvement means educating yourself about the issues. I can't number the people (mostly women - YIKES!) who glanced over at their husband's ballot application form to see what HE was doing before SHE checked off the box.

Let me explain that, lest you think they were voting in the same booth. In my county, you have a pre-signed "ballot application form" that we have at the polling place. That's that little alphabetical book we pull your "ticket" from. You filled out an application to get your voter's card.

In a primary in my state, you have 3 options: You can declare a party (Dem/Repub) or you can declare "non-partisan" but ONLY if there is a referendum issue on the ballot. So there are 3 check boxes: Democratic, Republican, Nonpartisan. If there is no referendum, you MUST declare a party, since Illinois doesn't have (nor will it likely have) an open primary.

So. If there is a referendum issue, educate yourself. Get to know the issue. Think about what you want to have happen. Then go vote.

Women, please use your own brain. If your husband wants to pick one type of ballot, you really do not need to go along with him. So if your vote cancels his out? Well, that's sometimes the way it works. That's the greatness of the process. Sometimes we run neck-and-neck because people are passionate about issues, and will vote on them. And there are winners and losers. So if you want to just vote for the referendum and Hubby wants to vote for political candidates, that's perfectly ok. If he wants to be a Republican this time, you can be a Democrat. The skies won't rain down frogs and locusts upon either of you.

The turnout in Illinois was abysmal. In the toilet. The lowest in years. People, there are other countries in which the population votes, but they are "told" how to vote. Oh, sure, Chavez gets a the point of threats! WE get to vote for who and what we want. We get to determine, to a certain extent, what gets on the ballot by participating in your town's council or the like. At my polling place, we had 19% turnout. Sad. But if you don't vote, you don't get to complain about the outcome. It's your own darned fault. You have the right to vote; it's up to you to exercise it.

At any rate, involvement starts by educating yourself. Then it continues when you get your butt to the polls and cast your vote. If you want to get more involved, there are a number of local politicians and issues that would welcome your help. Find an issue about which you are passionate, and get involved.

And go vote.

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