Thursday, October 30, 2008

down ticket

Who are you voting for? And I don't mean for President of the United States. For those of you who, like myself, are not able to vote early and/or who have not voted yet - what other choices will you have to make on your ballot? I took a look at the sample ballot for my voting ward, so that I would know ahead of time. Since every other local election has been relatively quiet in comparison to the Presidential election, I honestly did not know what else might be asked of me as a voter in the booth. Turns out that where I live, "down [the voting] ticket" there are at least two state-wide positions, four referendum questions, and some state general assembly positions that I'm going to have to weigh in on. I'd hate to go in there and just pick people at random, like I used to do when I first started voting and I didn't think about down ticket races until they were literally staring me in the face.

I put some research into my presidential pick. It wouldn't make sense to not put the same amount of effort into the other races and issues! Especially since - no offense to the future President - the next President will probably have less impact on my daily life and weekly paycheck than the locally elected officials that most people put little effort into choosing or monitoring. Every four years, I pay lots of attention to the presidential race. But I'm a little more mature now. I'm paying taxes. I'm going to be starting a family. There is too much at stake for me to fail to pay attention to what's going on with my state assembly and local officials, not just Congress and the President. The next president will not be able to put his hands directly on my local issues! To the extent the next president will change anything in my life, it will happen over time, after filtering down through the various levels of government. Meanwhile, decisions about finance, safety, education, even the water I drink, will be made right here where I live and in my state capital. It would just be stupid to pull the lever for a president and leave the booth thinking I've done my job as a voter.

If I am going to properly pay homage to the role and rights of the citizenship my ancestors fought so hard to give me, not only do I have to exercise my voting privileges, I must also take them seriously and follow through. I traced my family tree and found ancestors who could not read, and who were probably prohibited from voting and having a say in Chesterfield County, Virginia during Jim Crow. They couldn't say their peace. But I can. I have a say!

So, as I've done for the last few elections, I went online and found out who was running down ticket. I checked them out by reading a bunch of different things that matter to me, like experience, records, and platforms, and then I made my best educated guess on which candidates would be best for the positions. (Actually, I'm still deciding on one of them - it's a tough decision, and I'm glad I still have a few days to mull it over). Then I checked out the referendum questions and figured out my yesses and noes. I feel so much better and more responsible now. And if the ultimate winners - up or down ticket - ultimately screw up, I'm coming back to vote them out.