Good Morning! I know that we haven’t done a lot of home improvement/DIY crafting here lately, but I promise those are coming back next month! For now, I want to discuss something that has been near and dear to my heart since I was a young girl. I want to discuss voting with you. I’m not here to let you off the hook about doing your civic duty, but I am here to let you know that your civic duty isn’t just to vote. Voting is the act required, but it should be an informed vote. The electoral college was created to combat the uniformed vote in Presidential elections. I think it is no longer useful but that is neither here nor there.
What I do know is that every time there is an election most people feel called to vote. I see it on my facebook page and in the news. I remember being a small child and going with my family to the polls, because I knew it was important. It is important! Elections make me feel like a kid in a candy store. I started participating in elections at a young age. I was 8 years old when I put my first political sign in the front yard. I was voting in Weekly Reader polls about who should be President. I ate ice cream in the Congressional dining room at the age of 5. I loved politics then, and I love them now. It was my major in college. Politics are something I’m passionate about today. I feel passionate about the fact people should cast informed votes.
Now, I know there is A LOT of information out there in the world when it comes to politics and voting. This makes having an accurate view difficult. This is why we can’t just depend on one news source to give us all the facts. We can’t just look at the sound bytes on TV and assume we’ve got the whole story. An informed vote takes research and patience. We live in a world where there is 24 hour news. We live in a world where only sound bytes seem to matter. We live in a world where I question if some of our best leaders from the past could even be elected.
How can you cast an informed vote?
1. Read the ballot
When you get your sample ballot look it over, I start with the contested races. Uncontested races aren’t going to have a different outcome than the person running is going to win. If you don’t want to vote for that person then don’t cast your vote. You should also be seeking people to run against them on the next ballot. Once I have determined which races are contested, I look to see which races I know the most about. You’ll usually know the most about your highest elected officials such as President, Governor, or Mayor. These are the names you’ll see most often in the news. Are you happy with the way things are running on the national, state, or local political scene? No? You’ll probably want to make changes here. Of course with all the checks and balances in place for the highest offices you’ll also want to look at your representatives just below them. Do you agree with your highest official but think they are being hindered? This may be the case. You may not have all this information to start, but we will get into how to decide on that in a moment.
2. Read the candidates website
This is where you’ll find the platform of the candidates running for office. You’ll know where they say they stand on the issues and can then check this against their voting record if they have held office before. What they say should match up with how they’ve voted. If it doesn’t, you’ll want to ask more questions.
3. Watch the news
Watch your national, state, and local newscasts. These newscasts will have information on what’s going on in the world around you. They will discuss upcoming elections. You’ll want to get a varied look here since most news today has a slant, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have valid information.
4. Check out important websites
5. Ask around your community
Are your like minded neighbors pleased with the performance of your elected officials? This includes the dog catcher! Seriously guys, we vote for a lot of things that you don’t think about everyday, and you want to still be informed. Having information is a HUGE part of being able to mold the government you want representing you.
These are only a few ways in which you can make more informed voting decisions. I want to let you know though that it’s okay not to vote on something if you don’t have the information. Don’t feel ashamed to leave a box empty. You might regret saying yes to something like a bullet train to San Francisco later.