Be an Educated Voter

It is election time again. This year, more than any other, I have heard numerous people frustrated with the choices. As a result, many people have said they plan not to vote. I have heard this musing from people of all age groups. I have also heard numerous times that this is the worst “stuck between a rock and a hard spot” election they have ever seen.

A UMass Lowell poll found that almost 1/4 of millennial respondents would rather have the earth destroyed by a meteor than to have either Clinton or Trump elected President! The same survey found that slightly more than 1/4 of the respondents would prefer a random lottery to select the next President. Of course the survey results cannot be taken at the face value. I highly doubt that many people would truly rather have the earth destroyed. However, the results do show the complete and utter frustration at the current state of politics in this country.

What are we, as responsible Americans, to do next Tuesday? As many celebrities tell us on television…VOTE. What they fail to mention is that before we vote we should educate ourselves on the items included on the ballot. Going to the voting booth uneducated is like driving a car with no training. Both are scary to others and can have life changing consequences.

White House

The presidential race gets all the headlines, but there are many other things that will be decided next week. There are U.S. and state senators and representatives on the ballot. Numerous other state and local officials’ future depend on our votes. Many states have constitutional amendments and measures included on the ballot.

All these items are important. There are many long term ramifications that will follow our decision on which ovals to fill in. Before the next presidential election, at least one, and probably more, Supreme Court justices will be nominated. At the President’s appointment, and Congress’ approval. Those justices will likely serve far longer than anyone with their name on the ballot. The makeup of the court will dictate the direction of our country’s laws for generations to come. Our votes next Tuesday will impact the future for our children and grandchildren.

During his Gettysburg Address, President Lincoln referred to the United States government as being “of the people, by the people, for the people…” The way we make it by the people is through our votes. Not voting or making an uneducated vote takes away our ability to make the government “by the people.” It surely doesn’t seem much like we currently have a government of or by the people. Watching the rules and decisions they make doesn’t make it look like a government for the people either. How did we get to this point? Through the votes we did or did not cast.

I have voted in every election since I turned 18 years old and was eligible. I plan to continue to do so. Voting is my way of voicing my opinion on the country I want to leave my kids. It is truly the least I can do. Have you voted every chance you have had? If not, why? Do you think your vote won’t count? After all, millions of people cast votes in these national elections. How much impact can one vote have?

relief_map_of_texas

I am glad you asked. Do you think Texas is an asset to our country? Guess how close the vote was in the U.S. Senate when choosing to annex Texas? The final tally was 27 for and 25 against. If one senator had changed their vote from yes to no the vote would have been a tie and it would have died. If you follow this story back in time you will see that one of the senators who for in favor of Texas becoming a state was elected by a margin of 1 vote. Likewise, the man who cast the tie-breaking vote in that election was the President Pro-Tempe of the Senate, who had won his election by only one vote as well (218-217).

If you want to read more about the facts and details of this string of close elections check out the book “Magnificent Destiny” by Paul Wellman. For a more condensed audio narration check out the Adventures in Odyssey version. You can even include your kids in this one. It’s never too early to teach them the importance of a vote.

There are many other cases like this in our history where one vote did make a difference. All votes carry the same power. But, an uneducated is a wasted vote. Even worse, an uneducated vote could end up being a vote against what you wanted. The only way for your vote to be counted is to show up and cast it. The only way to be sure that your vote speaks your mind is to be educated before heading to the polls.

The only way that our government can be “of the people, by the people, for the people” is if the people are actively involved. Otherwise it is a government of some people, by some people, for some people.

I will cast by ballot as an educated voter in hopes of affecting positive change on our country. Will you do the same?