Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Beyond Voting

As usual, I voted today. This election is supposed to have a large turnout, yet will still be decided by the minority of eligible voters. There have been plenty of exortations to persuade those who choose not to vote to participate -- I'm not adding my voice to that chorus.

An occasion to vote

All parties worked hard to get out the vote this time around. I wondered, though, about all those new registrants. Were these people who just turned 18 or just became citizens and were eligible to vote for the first time? Perhaps there were some, but I think rather the marjority were people who had been eligible for years but simply hadn't bothered to vote in past elections. 

Sure, this one was important. But it shouldn't be a special occasion.

More than one choice

I'm sure most folks walked into the polls already knowing which presidential ticket they'd vote for. But what about the rest of the ballot? In my state, for example, there was a House of Representatives seat up for election. Sure, one could just vote the party and not think about it. 

But is the party choice automatically the best advocate for the district? I prefer to take it on a case by case basis. We've been well served by members of both parties. What they had in common was that they knew and understood the needs of their constituents and served as advocates for their districts.

More than one issue

On my ballot were two state constitutional amendments. They were both carefully crafted with seemingly unending strings of subordinate clauses to obscured their true intent. Here's one of the questions we voted on today -- and this is the wording on the ballot:

Should Article I of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to prohibit any agreement or combination between an employer and a labor union or labor organization whereby (i) nonmembers of the union or organization are denied the right to work for the employer, (ii) membership to the union or organization is made a condition of employment or continuation of employment by such employer, or (iii) the union or organization acquires an employment monopoly in any such enterprise?

Any idea of what a yes or no vote would do? 

Only if you were familiar with the Constitution of Virginia, and the Commonwealth's current right to work statutes. The defeat or passage of this amendment can have consequences for the state -- and perhaps not the one the voter would want. 

In my opinion, my civic duty isn't just to show up and vote. Rather, it's to show up having done my homework so that I know what I'm voting for (or against).

More than one election

To all the folks who turned out this year to vote, I'd like to extend an invitation -- let's do it again next year. There's more to participatory democracy than just picking a president. Every election is important, and your participation is vital. 

You can help decide who represents you in the Senate and in the House. You can help decide who represents you at the state capital. You can help decide who the governer will be. Depending on where you are, you can help decide who your local sheriff will be, what judges will sit on your benches, who will run your school board, who will be mayor of your town, who will prosecute criminals, and who will govern your county, borough, or township. 

And those are the elected officials who can really impact your everyday life. And if you don't show up to vote, then someone else will decide for you. Maybe even me. 

So please -- same time, next year.

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