"High Achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation." - Charles Kettering

Monday, March 12, 2012

My Annual (at LEAST) Voter Responsibility Rant

I suppose you are all somewhat weary of my regular rants on here about how Americans often shirk their civic duty to vote. I do believe our country could do something to help increase voter turnout, such as making voting day a national holiday (or local holiday for localized elections), or encourage employers to let folks use extra time at lunch to vote. But mostly, we lazy Americans need to change our bad habits and increase our expectations. Remember November 2010, when, depending on your politics, either the great Savior or Satan himself was elected governor of Wisconsin? Pundits were nearly breaking their arms patting themselves on the back about the unprecedented voter turnout in Wisconsin. 52% overall. 43% in Rock County. On any grading scale I have ever seen, this amounts to a FAIL! As with many things in America, we have clearly set the bar too low. What the heck do you suppose the results would have been if 80, 90, dare I say 100 percent of the eligible voters in our fair state decided to exercise their right and responsibility to vote? Would we be in this blinking mess with the school finance? Nobody can say clearly one way or the other so speculation is a waste of time. But one cannot help but dabble in a daydream or two about it. It's largely why I did not sign a recall petition. Just because somebody is a moron doesn't automatically qualify him for recall. Remember who put him there.

I am rabid about voting in all elections for which I am eligible. Two events in my life made me a fervent voter. First, I was a newly minted voter (back in the stone age, as my kids would say) and my friend was running for office in Ann Arbor Michigan. I was too lazy to vote and he lost the election by one vote. When he found out about my stupidity, he never spoke to me again.

A few years later, I again became complacent and began to believe my comfort after work was more important than exercising my civic duty. It was at this time that I read the history of Women's Suffrage. I found out the lengths our fore-mothers went to in order to secure for me the privilege to vote. I assumed that the option "sitting on my butt watching TV instead of voting" would not have been an option for them. I have not missed one election since, despite oftentimes feeling uninformed about the candidates.

After we moved to Evansville, first my husband and then I ran for office (him for alderman, me for school board). In running for office, I discovered that the dearth of information about candidates is crippling at times and vowed to read everything I could to inform my vote.  Sometimes, since I knew the real story, I knew the one presented in the news was sketchy, inaccurate or downright false at times. My subsequent experience as a freelance reporter has not changed my skepticism for the news one bit. I felt that there was a lot of local support to make my position and qualifications known to my electorate. The Review covered the school board election extensively. Two local citizens sponsored (poorly attended) public forums for the candidates to state their positions. I don't really think that this is a common experience for those running for office. That is how I came to propose to Kelly that we run a series of articles highlighting candidates responses to tough questions. The former school board writer had run extensive coverage and I wanted to add in tough questions I knew were pertinent from my former stint on the board. Kelly was very enthusiastic and agreed that I could post it on my blog after the last article ran. My experience is that most electronic readers aren't print readers and vice versa. I wanted to capture the largest audience because, while I am passionate about voting, I'm even more passionate about voting while informed (VWI).  So next Tuesday, look for a very long blog posting  (if I can put it in one post I will) with all five articles reproduced in their original form here. I want all my readers to VWI!

For all of those who kept asking me about my series and to whom I said "Please read the paper," thanks for  buying the paper and supporting my fledgling career in writing. (Chasin'). I know you took one for the team.

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