Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Voting time
It is time to exercise your right to vote! Historically speaking, mid-term elections do not garner the attention they deserve, certainly not on a national level, but Nevada County is inclined to buck that trend.
I am proud to live in a community full of passionate, opinionated people who want to have their voices heard. I will choose zeal over complacency any day.
The Voter Information Guide arrived in the mail and my ballot arrived shortly after it. I am surprised at how many candidates and propositions I am unsure of.
I attended several forums and “meet the candidates” events and had made my decision in several of the contests but had a bit of research to do before deciding on others.
It’s exciting to see so many contested races. People are, indeed, stepping up. Now, it is up to us to decide who we want in office.
I realize there are a substantial number of people who can’t be bothered to fill out a ballot. That is a sad statement to make, but blatantly true. There are too many who don’t care enough to vote. And, there are too many who don’t believe their vote matters. That is a shame.
Regardless, the one thing worse (to me) than not voting at all, is voting in ignorance.
Here are a few pitfalls to avoid when voting:
Voting for gender: Certainly, there is a cry across the nation for women and minorities to stand up and run for office. I am thrilled. However, gender (or race) alone does not either qualify nor disqualify a person for the position they seek.
A candidate needs to earn votes on their own merit, regardless of gender (or race). In other words, they must know their stuff.
Voting straight party line: Does anything really need to be said here? Partisanship is crippling the judicial system. It’s worth your time to find out which propositions and candidates, individually, speak to your own ideals.
Voting for the incumbent, just because they are the incumbent: This is simple. If you are happy with the way things have been going in a particular arena and you have the option of re-electing who is making that happen, do so.
But if you are only voting for someone because they already have the job, take a moment to consider what new energy and a new viewpoint might do.
And, if you are not happy with the way things have been going and there is another candidate who seems to align with your principles and values, consider voting for them.
Voting for the most familiar name: If you are checking the boxes on your ballot and the only reason you are making a check where you are is because it’s the only name you recognize, please put down your pen.
Take a few minutes and find out what the candidate stands for. Does it align with what you stand for? Vote accordingly.
Voting exactly the way a spouse, friend or organization is voting: This one might be a bit greyer. I would say if you trust the source and agree with them on most issues, it is far from worst case. Having said that, while gathering enough information to form your own opinion is ideal, relying on trusted advisors is a close second.
I speak to each of these pitfalls because I can honestly say I have been guilty of all of them in one election or another in my (nearly) 40 years of eligibility. I include not voting at all.
I admit there was a time when I was a lazy voter. When I was young, I thought just showing up was enough. It is embarrassing to admit how many times I have been guilty of each of those strategies.
Making a difference
As I matured, I began to take the right to vote a bit more seriously. I believe one vote can make a difference. And I believe it is worth our time and attention to understand what is at stake or who is asking to represent us before casting that vote.
While the national elections are seemingly decided before we Californians even cast a vote, the same can not be said for our local races.
Moreover, we are lucky enough to live in a community where we know we will cross paths with our civic leaders regularly.
We see them at functions, at local restaurants, in church, at the gas station and — if you are so inclined — at public meetings fulfilling their responsibility.
Each of our supervisors, council people, sheriff and district attorney are all accessible and visible. Who we elect into office will have our ear and (I sincerely believe) our best interest at heart.
Having a say in who those leaders and policy makers are, is a right that was fought for long and hard and one we should not take for granted today.
Be sure to cast your ballot by 8 p.m. June 5. Even if your propositions or candidates lose, it affords you the right to complain about all that is not as you think it should be until the next terms are up.
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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