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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The political season

Throughout the coming weeks there will be a mad scramble from politicians across the country trying to gain votes. I have some thoughts about the election process.

Recently we had primary elections in our county. They are over, and that is a relief until the next round starts. For some reason this year all the politicians decided that the way to get my vote is to call me every day and tell me how wonderful they are or how awful their opponent is. Of course, they aren't calling me personally. They are just sending me some recorded speech. I lost count of the times that I answered the phone over the past few weeks to find a canned politician on the other end. One day I came home from a trip to Jacksonville, and there were four messages on my answering machine. All of them were from politicians. So when I went to the polls, I voted for the candidates who didn't call me or the ones who called me the least.

We had about a 20 percent turnout for the primary elections in our county. So considering that only about 50 percent of the eligible population registers to vote that means 10 percent of those eligible to vote do so. So just over 5 percent of the population can choose someone in the primaries to be the candidate for the general election. That is truly deplorable. What can we do to make people know how important it is to exercise our right to vote? I think it's a right that too many people take for granted.

I consider myself to be somewhat of a political junky. I follow national politics quite closely. I pay attention to state politics during election times. But even though I try to follow local issues, I often find myself uninformed. Candidates for local office seem to come out of the woodwork at election time. It is often difficult to decide who to vote for because they tell you one thing, but when they get in office they do something else. Since we moved to this area 5 years ago, I have voted to put out the incumbent every time because the current crop of county and city officials are making a mess of things. In the beginning I didn't realize that even though the person wasn't the incumbent that more than likely they had at one time served as a commissioner. They are just recycling the same bad candidates over and over again. Now I pay close attention to whether the candidates are completely new or just of the recycled variety.

Now I'm going to talk about the voting process. I didn't live in Florida during the fiasco of the 2000 election, but after we moved here in 2001, they introduced computer voting machines. They are quite nice and very easy to use. Touch the screeen to make your choice, then review your choices and vote. The big problem for me in this past election was my polling place. I have always voted at the rec center which is about six and a half miles from our house. Now that might not seem like a lot to those who live in a big city, but it is twice as far as I drive to most places in town. During that last election, I noticed that they had opened a polling place about half that distance from our house, so I was delighted to see when I received my new voter registration card that I was supposed to vote at the closer place. Well, when I went to vote, I went to the new polling place, but when I put in my ID into the system, it said I should be voting at the rec center again. I was a little annoyed, but I went to the rec center and voted. But before the next election, I intend to find out why that happened, especially when there is a polling place much closer to my home. I heard that this happened to someone else, and they just decided not to vote.

Now that brings me to my last point. Despite the difficulties one might encounter while trying to vote or the lack of good candidates, I hope everyone will go out and vote in the next election. And if you aren't registered, register now, and exericise your right to vote. It's one of the most important things you can do.



At 6:44 AM, Blogger Diane Perkins said...

Good advice, Merrillee! Everyone who can should vote.
My polling place is close enough I could walk to it. I remember one Presidential election year, I was there early in the morning shortly after our polls opened. There were lines already, lots of people in business suits. The people working the polls-senior citizens mostly- were unprepared for them and were not as efficient as they could have been. The people around me were grumbling and complaining and making sure the workers knew it. I said, "Hey these are all volunteers. Give them a break." It actually shut them up!

At 12:30 PM, Blogger Lisa Pulliam said...

In Oregon we have mail-in ballots. Each election, be it primary or general, we are hounded with calls from candidates, special interest groups or community organizations. The best way to stop those calls early is to vote right when the ballot comes in the mail. These organizations get a list every day of people who haven't voted, and that's who they call. There's a couple day lag between when you vote and stop getting calls. But it makes a huge difference.

At 10:55 AM, Blogger Trish Milburn said...

Good post, Merrillee. I think Americans are so far removed from not having the right to vote that they've forgotten it's not just a responbility but a right people died for.

Lisa, that's good to know about voting early and avoiding the annoying phone calls.


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