I was talking to a 20-something the other day whose attitude towards the election was a bit perplexing. We were talking about the presidential candidates, and she just about yawned, saying that she couldn’t care less about the elections since the pro baseball season was on.
She’s planning to vote, no question about it, but I wondered how her indifference would spill over to her studying or not studying what she will be voting on, or what the candidates stand for.
Not everyone has to rant or rave about their favorite politician, but this indifference kills me.
I want to grab her by the shoulders and say, “Are you kidding me? People have died to enjoy this right!” And people continue to die so we — and others on foreign shores — can enjoy this right. It’s not a perfect system by any means — as shown by the Gore-Bush chad debacle — and some swing states are reporting election sign vandalism, but we have it pretty good here in America.
I can go to my polling place and cast my vote unmolested and not intimidated by an armed militia. I can express my opinion about my favorite candidate on Facebook or my blog and I will not be hunted down by a religious theocracy and shot at, like 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan did.
So you say you are going to vote. Great. But are you informed?
Does the following scenario sound familiar to you? You notice all the election signs and remember that it’s voting day. Parking is pretty tight and you pull into the first stall you can get into. You walk into the polling station, sign your name upside down, and get a voter card. Then you stand in your little voting cubicle and look at the names. So far, so good, though you don’t recognize a few names on the ballot. Then you come to the constitutional amendments and you are definitely thrown for a loop.
I will admit that there have been elections in the past when I’ve come to vote and I didn’t realize I was also voting for constitutional amendments, and it is only when I’m standing there ready to vote that I’m contemplating them.
My solution this year? I was at the library the other day and took a Utah Voter Information Pamphlet from a stack. I am now settling into the part about Constitutional Amendment A, to learn more about whether or not a portion of the revenue from all of the state’s severance taxes should be used a certain way.
Some of these voting issues aren’t as exciting as others, granted. But they are as important.
So grab your voter pamphlet. Study up on the issues. Read the fine print — even about the judges being re-elected to our courts. All that matters.
And if by chance you don’t feel like you know everything there is to know about issues, do the best you can with the information you have. Because voting is like a muscle. If you don’t use it, you will lose it.
There’s hope, because the presidential elections have people on fire this year. One of my friends who is normally reserved has plenty to say on her posts. I love that.
That’s what America is all about.
Jewel Punzalan Allen is a memoir writing coach and a long-time journalist who lives in Grantsville. She blogs at pink-ink-pink.blogspot.com.