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Sep 14

VOTE, for Crying Out Loud, VOTE!

In Brief—Voting is one of the most important constitutional rights that exist. By voting, you will be helping democracy survive and grow. In this piece you are advised on how to go about exercising that right. Read it carefully, then VOTE, for crying out loud, VOTE!

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A Critical Right—

When George W. Bush was elected in 2000, not by the people but by the Supreme Court conservatives, Bush actually received fewer votes than Albert Gore and, in the bargain, fewer than 48 percent of the voters cast their votes for Bush. Gore, on the other hand, received more than 48 percent of the popular vote. Put another way, less than 24 percent of the voters voted for George W. Bush, yet thanks to the Supreme Court conservatives, he won. Fewer than 24 percent means that less than a quarter of the voters voted for Bush. Putting aside the Supreme Court’s conservatives’ thumb on the scale, that paltry number brought us the illegal Iraq War and the deaths and chaos that rage still.

In Ferguson, Missouri, in the wake of the police killing of an unarmed youth, Michael Brown, the residents realized that a genuine memorial to Brown would be for the residents to register to vote. Though registering to vote was described by the tone-deaf Republicans as “disgusting,” the residents’ recognition of the power of the vote was both an affirmation of democracy and a display of the recognition that the vote was a way for them to exercise the power given to them by the Constitution.

In case you don’t understand where I’m going with these facts, this piece is a plea for all of you to vote in November and in every election that comes along. The vote gives you an opportunity to make your voice heard and advance democracy at the same time. Along the way, you can help erase America’s deplorable record for voting. In the presidential vote just mentioned between Bush and Gore roughly only half of the eligible voters bothered to vote. Talk about deplorable.

Here’s How You Vote—

Register—Your county Registrar of Voters, NAACP, League of Women Voters (anybody, not just women), La Raza, Rock the Vote, Native American Voter Registration and many, many others. If in doubt, ASK!

Documentation—Be sure to take identification such as drivers license, official photos, etc. States will differ in their requirements, so check ahead of time. Some states will try to make it difficult for you to register and vote. This may happen if you are elderly, a student away from home, a person of color or a former felon. If you are hassled, get the hassler’s name and immediately contact the ACLU. Be persistent and by no means get discouraged. You may be helping not only yourself but others similarly situated.

Inform Yourself—Prepare to vote intelligently by finding out about the candidates and the issues. Regarding the candidates, find out not only what they said but what they DID. Be aware that roughly 90% of all incumbents are reelected regardless of what they did (or didn’t do). The average voter simply recognizes the name and casts his/her ballot for the incumbent. This is not being smart. Vote for the candidate who best reflects your interests.

Regarding the issues, take the time necessary to read the pamphlet that will be sent to you and understand the arguments for and against the issue. What will best benefit society as opposed to the interests of the wealthy?

VOTE!— According to my information, the federal election is November 4. For the next election, federal or state, find out the date. Find out the location of the precinct where you will vote. Can you vote ahead of time? This may vary according to your state of residence, so check ahead of time. If you will be away or traveling, can you vote by absentee ballot? If you will be away on election day, contact the local Registrar of Voters and get an absentee ballot. Whatever you do, whether in person or absentee, VOTE on November 4!

Special Considerations—If you are elderly or a student away from home or a person of color or a former felon, find out the state rules that may affect you. As stated in the Documentation category above, if you are hassled, get the hassler’s name and immediately contact the ACLU. Particularly in Republican-dominated states, you may encounter efforts to discourage you from voting. Know your rights and politely but firmly insist on them. Make sure the poll workers understand that you intend to exercise your constitutional right to vote.

If you are a former felon who has paid his/her “debt to society,” the applicable rules vary from state to state. Prepare early by finding out what those rules are. The local ACLU, the NAACP and La Raza can advise you. As previously stated, be polite but firm about your wish to vote.

Know Your Rights—Voting is a constitutional right, so it’s important for you to understand those rights and exercise them.

 

Note: Yes, I know that I have written about the problems with America’s system of voting, but first things first. There’s an old saying that you should dance with the one that brung ya. In keeping with that thought, we need to recognize the reality of the current system and cast our votes. We can get to the problems later, but for now, let’s dance with the one that brung us. VOTE!

P.S.  Voting is so important that I suggest you post this piece on your Facebook page. Just a suggestion.

8 comments

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  1. Dave Meyers

    In my youth…yes, I still remember it…I was so involved in my own little world that I NEVER voted. In fact, I never voted in a national election until 1992 when Clinton ran against Bush the Elder (and wiser).
    I’m not proud of this fact in retrospect, but, here’s the deal; I never complained about who was in office either……I didn’t have the right to do that.
    So, if you’re like me and find that there is plenty to complain about these days…then, as Mr. Bay urges, VOTE. You’ll then have earned the right to express your opinion or dissatisfaction about the performance of elected officials whether you voted for or against them…especially if you voted against them!
    Here’s another thing; Many folks say, “my vote, my one vote, won’t really matter”.
    Here’s the way I look at that; My vote will always cancel out the vote of my brother-in-law. That always makes me feel better.

    1. Don Bay

      As I say at the end of the piece, America has big problems with the way it votes (or more to the point, doesn’t vote), but we have to cast our vote lest the crazies continue or increase in power. Good on you that you have seen the light. At least your vote will cancel out your brother-in-law’s vote. Mine will cancel out my sister’s vote. The important thing is…VOTE!

  2. Linda

    Done…Shared it….Dave, you made me laugh, thanks!

    1. Don Bay

      Bless you for posting my piece for others to see and act on (hope, hope!). We need everybody to cast a vote…although I hope that rational people will turn out in droves. Whatever, VOTE!

  3. Linda

    What’s a pingback and how does one do that? I’m just curious.

    1. Don Bay

      Rather than defining “pingback,” I recommend you Google the word to get a clearer definition the I can give. For what it’s worth, I suspect that my link in the latest piece of “Vote, for crying out loud, Vote” is the reason I received a pingback. It wasn’t someone else linking to my blog piece that led to the pingback, it was me. Good question, though.

  4. Don Bay

    Voting is one of the most important actions we can take to keep democracy alive. The Scots had a turnout of about 85% for their referendum on independence. By contrast, the average turnout in the USA is about 50%. Is there any wonder that I call that statistic deplorable. There’s no question that America’s system of voting is badly flawed, but until we bring about a better way—and that’s possible—we need to use the system we have. Vote, for crying out loud, Vote!

    By the way, a pingback doesn’t tell me much about your views. Please consider a regular comment in the future…although even a pingback gives me a chance to underline my point. Thanks for that.

  5. Don Bay

    The most important action a person can take is to vote. That doesn’t mean you should step into that voting booth with no idea of how the person you are voting for has voted in congress or in the state legislature. What has the candidate said? What has the candidate done that will benefit you or hurt you? Learn how your vote will advance or hurt democracy. Your vote will affect the type of government you will get. Vote for Democracy!

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