Why Vote? A Humble Answer

This morning began before the sun had risen. My oldest son woke up the younger son resulting in a symphony of “Mama” in both verbal and nonverbal terms.  As I navigated the early hours between fixing coffee, breakfast for the family and dressing the children as well as myself, the silent question drifted through my mind: “How will I make it through the day?”

It was late morning by the time I was in the car with my children to start on the errands and adventures ahead of us for this otherwise ordinary Tuesday.  As I was watching the traffic for the safe moment to crossover I saw them.  The people waving on the side of the road with flags and political signs.  My mind again rattling off: “Crapp. It’s voting day. I don’t even know who and what for except for a couple of signs I’ve seen on the road in the past several weeks.”

As it turned out, our first item on our schedule would take me right past my voting precinct.  Internally I react: “I have to stop, of course I don’t want to deal with it since I’ve the boys with me and have no help, no distraction for them. I have to explain this play-by-play to my four-year-old and God knows I am exhausted already of doing so all morning as it is! But I have the right to vote.  I don’t have a paycheck-paying job but I work my mind, body and heart out everyday 24/7 and I can participate in having a say who is to sit on that circuit judge seat(s) and who will be our tax collector and eventually by this fall who I think has my confidence in leading our nation as the President of the United States. I have to turn in to this gated community to go and vote.”

As I pulled up to the security gate and gave my name and purpose, the guard lady gave me a warm smile and assurance that no one had really passed through recently and so I should be in and out quickly.  Perhaps it was the dinosaur Raptor-like screech she heard from my 17 month old or the constant “Mama, mama…” from my other son while I was stopped there that prompted her to give me the kind encouragement.  I did appreciate her candor.

Once at the voting place situated at the Ibis Country Club community clubhouse area, I saw the campaign people and signs again and took care to avoid them.  It was nothing against them personally, it’s just I already had my hands full as I was unloading the boys and picking up the food particles, books, toys and other random projectiles that catapulted out of our vehicle with each door that I was opening. I decided immediately that placing the baby in my back carrier was the best idea while holding my other son’s hand and making a game of running up to the clubhouse through the carefully manicured grass: oops, sorry Ibis.

Thankfully, the guard lady was right. No one was in the voting area except for the presiding volunteers.  After working out where my ballot was I found myself at the privacy booth with my boys by the window where they would look out and watch the activity at the golf course. I looked at the ballot and was slightly baffled, there were literally only two names I recognized on this ballot and that’s only because one I’ve known in my Greek-American local community and the other because I’m used to seeing them as the incumbent.

Enter inner debate with embellishment as I write this: “I’m so embarrassed with myself, I haven’t been paying attention and I made no effort to even try to look up some of these folks before I came here.  Yet, I’m here damn it.  I don’t have the luxury of time and although it may seem irresponsible to vote blindly for the most part, at the very least I am exercising my right to vote and if everyone did so it would be amazing to see the results.  Sometimes people making it in by sheer chance may be better than the ones everyone thinks will win.”

I understand that there are people reading this that will feel much differently and perhaps even group me into being part of the problem when it comes to the voting turnouts.  But try to hear me out one more time on this argument that it’s better to vote than not at all.

Everyone who is eligible to vote should because we can and if we all would in this country then truly the blame and disdain for whatever goes “wrong” in the government would be a shared responsibility by the nation’s citizens for placing these men and women in power and we could enact swift change when and as needed.  Our political campaign history has shown that when the voting population is galvanized to vote even just 5-10% more than what the average turnout is, political machines and pre-determined incumbent victors fall to the wayside in a delirious dusting like the shift I weathered as a Legislative Assistant on Capitol Hill in a Republican office in the mid-term elections of 2006.

As for today, it turned out to be a local primary election.  Small potatoes but still a part of the construction of what are local offices are to look like by November this year.  I was given a voting ballot with my party affiliation and the simple instructions to connect the arrow pointing to my respective selections.  It was easy to vote for the two persons I knew, my next step was to vote for all women since my political passion is to help bring more women into the mix as we are still under-represented.

The boys were squirming by the end but I was grateful that they weathered this adventure well and that if anything they are witnessing continuously that mommy feels this is important to do no matter what the mood or weather of the particular voting day may be.  I do admit the following mental note: try to plan ahead for absentee ballots for voting days when possible.

My random voting day ended with a laugh as I drove out of the parking lot I recognized one of the names I had voted for and decided to roll down my window and speak to the lady there: “Are you Jaimie?” She answered that she wasn’t.  “Is Jaimie a woman?”  The lady had stood at this point and replied with a big smile, “No, but he’s a good man!”  I chuckled at this fly luck for this candidate as judging by her tone she had encountered this question as to his gender many times before.  “Well, good for him because I voted for him because I thought he was a woman!”  We both laughed and wished each other a nice day.

R.V.S.Bean

Post-note:

A colleague of mine made a very good suggestion via a comment to this blog posting: as long as your vote ballot is still counted, you can just vote for whatever/whoever you know. Case in point being the state amendments that end up on ballo…

ts–better to skip voting on that amendment if you don’t know its consequences. That being said, I still feel it’s important to come out and vote even if you end up only picking one thing/person on the ballot than not vote at all.

Comments

  1. I would counter your “it’s better to vote (blindly) than not at all” with the following statement: this is how crazy amendments to our state constitution get passed. (“I’m here; sure, why not vote for an amendment that helps those poor, poor pregnant pigs!” – if you don’t remember this…I’m not making it up.) I would add that unless you actually work in the court system, blind voting does not help those who actually work with judges for a living. I vote, but only for the candidates I know about. If that means I only draw in four or five arrows on a ballot, so be it. I respectfully disagree with your assertion because although I think it would be great fun to toss out those who aren’t expecting it, taking everything on the ballot as a random exercise in “why not?” often has consequences that are unforeseen (and may never be seen by that voter). 🙂

    • I appreciate your counter on this and will do so in the future: I honestly didn’t know if they still count your ballot if it is incomplete but when I asked my husband he assured me it is and that he has done the same thing in the past, that is skipped an item on a voting ballot if he doesn’t know who/what it is about. I still think it is important to vote even if only one thing is picked on a ballot. In my delirium I just connected everything, at least for now I know there wasn’t an overwhelming number of people voting in my careless manner:-) But thanks again for alerting me to this point, duly noted:-)

  2. I agree with Joy on the ballot initiatives. They are, many times, so oddly worded that if you don’t know exactly what they issue is you may end up voting against what you believe. In any case if you are not properly informed about what or for whom you are voting you should abstain as a matter on conscience. This would include voting for women because they are women. If a male candidate is going to push for women’s issues more than the female candidate then the male is the better choice if you are looking for representation. Voting for someone because of their gender is more of an affirmative action mentality instead voting for who will do the better job.

    To give an example from another angle, I am a Christian. If I were to just vote for the candidate that is a Christian I would vote for President Obama in the upcoming election because Mitt Romney is a Mormon. Of course once I dive into the social positions of each candidate I realize that I pretty much disagree with Pres Obama on everything, including social issues. So the proper vote for me is Romney because his positions match up with mine the best.

    So to sum that up, anyone who casts any vote should be informed about the candidate or issue for which they are voting. It is when people vote blindly or with an affirmative action mentality that we end up with poor representation.

    • I agree with this counter-argument with the caveat that even an incomplete ballot with informed voting is better than none at all: see my post -note:
      A colleague of mine made a very good suggestion via a comment to this blog posting: as long as your vote ballot is still counted, you can just vote for whatever/whoever you know. Case in point being the state amendments that end up on ballots–better to skip voting on that amendment if you don’t know its consequences. That being said, I still feel it’s important to come out and vote even if you end up only picking one thing/person on the ballot than not vote at all.

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Wyoming Life

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