Random Blog A Musing Farf

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

VOTE EARLY AND OFTEN (BUT NOT IN THE SAME ELECTION)

I have been involved in politics actively since 1992, when, instead of finals, I opted to volunteer on the Connecticut Coordinated Campaign after school. Unexpectedly, I developed a love of the political process and went on to work as at the White House under President Clinton, EMILY’s List and a variety of campaigns on the local, statewide and national level. It was awesome until Bush won in 2000. Like most people in my position, I went on to other things, but kept wishfully thinking of my campaign days. Now, as part of my job, I work on election law as well as labor law and I love the election part of it more than most people think is normal.

I also vote in every possible election. I vote in elections for President all the way down to local office and actually make an attempt to learn something about the people and/or issues being decided at the polls. Which is why the amount of people in my life who do not vote is something that disturbs me.

Today, at a campaign meeting for a race on which I volunteer my time, someone said that the two problems with getting people to the polls this year are overconfidence and apathy. In other words, people don’t care and those who do care, think their candidate will win by such a wide margin that their one vote does not make a difference.

There are many myths about all the people who have won by one vote and most are false. In fact, the only true one I could find is this from Snopes.com: In 1839, Marcus "Landslide" Morton was indeed elected governor of Massachusetts by one vote. Of the 102,066 votes cast by the good people of that state, he received exactly 51,034. Had his count been 51,033, the election would have been thrown into the Legislature, where he probably would not have won. "Landslide" also made the record books in 1842 when he won the same office again by one vote, this time in the Legislature. (In those days, Massachusetts governors were elected for terms of one year.)

But that is not the point. The point is that the American Democratic system was set up so that everyone (except minors and felons) have a say in who represents them. Want an end to that debacle in Iraq? Vote Ned Lamont. Want to keep abortion legal? Vote Hillary Clinton. Care about the environment? Vote for someone whose views are similar to yours. Otherwise, don’t complain when the values and ideals you treasure get whipped like one of Representative Foley’s Pages on game night. Oh, and if you live in upstate NY and are against the molestation of children you may want to vote against Rep. Reynolds, who knew about Foley’s emails but chose to say nothing.

Too lazy/busy to go to the polls? Vote absentee.

I’ll even make this deal with everyone who reads this and is inspired to be a new voter. I will research the issues and candidates for you if you promise to vote. I will arrange for an absentee ballot if you will be away. I will even help you to get transportation to the polls. All you have to do is pull the lever – and I won’t even ask you for whom you voted or (loudly) tell you why you were wrong. I’ll just be happy you participated.

4 comments:

Mara said...

My husband and I were just discussing the best way to find out which elections I, as an ex-pat, am still eligible to vote in. I still pay US taxes (or file, anyway, and get a credit for the taxes I pay here) so that must count for something, right? Also, when I lived on the pre-gentrified W 151st street, I used to hang out with a politically active Puerto Rican hardware store owner. Both he and I fought hard to get locals in the neighborhood to vote. Most of the people uptown would look at the trash filled streets, the potholes, the lack of city services, and say, Why vote? Our community is always overlooked. Our best argument was that if enough people in under-serviced areas voted, and it didn't even matter for who, politicians would at least start to take notice. And what do you know? After a little while, several candidates, including Pataki and Bloomberg, started appearing uptown. Basically I am just seconding Sara. Vote! Vote!

montchan said...

response to the above post.

As long as you hold your US passport, you are eligible to vote in any elections that are happening in the district where you were previously registered to vote in the States.

here's more info:
Americans - 18 years old or older on Nov. 7th, 2006 are eligible to vote in the 2006 Midterm Congressional Elections, and it is simpler than ever to register to vote.

The nonpartisan Overseas Vote Foundation ("OVF") provides overseas citizens with an easy, full-featured voter registration form generation solution called RAVA -- online! RAVA is a secure, Internet-based, automated voter registration wizard and is available at www.ovf-rava.org. This site makes absentee voter registration simple and fast.

Supporting services include OVF's Voter Help Desk and the OVF Election Official Directory.

Register from overseas and receive your ballot in your mailbox! For more information, please visit www.overseasvotefoundation.org. Processing takes longer from overseas. Register today!


I'm an expat too, and you betcha I'm registered to vote.

mara said...

Thanks much!

Suzanne said...

Ever since I turned 18, I have proudly voted in every election. (Growing up in the Chicag-area, I know I probably should have started voting earlier than that...) My biggest fear these days is that electronic voting machines don't accurately capture the votes of those who are motivated to get out there. It is easy to resolve (printed receipts into a ballot box, anyone?) but the will does not appear to be there. So sad and worrisome.