Early voting started today in my town.
I was able to navigate the ballot with ease. It offered choices among candidates for mayor, four seats on the town council, and four on the local school board, so marking my choices took little time. Voting is easy, but it can take a little time in preparation.
These days, candidates create their own web sites. A computer visit to the county’s Board of Elections web site enables me to print a sample ballot. With that in front of me I visit the candidates’ sites to get a feel for where they stand on the issues that concern me. Then I pencil in my choices on the sample ballot, which I can tuck in my pocket and take with me to the polls when I vote. This takes a minimum of effort. Beyond this, public candidate forums can offer up-close-and-personal access to the candidates for those who choose to inform their votes in that way.
Actually traveling to the polling place to cast my vote brings me to this question. It’s about all those smiling people outside the polling place, extending their hands to offer me printed material promoting the candidate of bond issue they support. They are eager to talk, urging our support for their candidate or cause. We are required to run this electioneering gauntlet before we can make it safely inside the building where we can cast out votes in private.
Today, as I left the polling place, I engaged a pair of these folks in a friendly conversation, and asked one, “Do you believe that the people you approach haven’t yet decided which candidates they will vote for?” I was shocked when one replied that she routinely encounters several voters who are entering the polls still undecided how they will vote.
Now that’s scary.
Informed voting is so easy yet so important. I’ve been doing it since the first year I was eligible, 1956, and don’t think I’ve missed a single opportunity to vote since. Voting gives us a voice. This is how we frustrated Americans can have a say. Many of us already have made one choice: We know how we plan to vote for president in the general election in 2020. But for most elections, I strongly recommend doing a little homework first. Takes a few minutes, it’s easy, and it is responsible.
We owe this much to ourselves and our fellow citizens.