Other Voices: Don’t ‘decline to state’ in this year’s election
Many people have recently chosen to register to vote as “decline-to-state” voters rather than as Republicans or Democrats. It is argued that this is a way to force mainstream parties to better articulate their positions and give the voters a real choice. While this makes some philosophical sense, it ignores the practical realities of our current system. By registering as a DTS voter, you may actually be throwing your vote away this year. Here are four reasons not to do so:
1. The primary is in February. Feb. 5, 2008, is the middle of winter, when we have unpredictable weather. If you plan to vote at the real voting booth, then you might be out of luck if weather and traffic delay you. If you are registered as permanent absentee and affiliated with a Party, your vote will be counted ” if you are DTS and miss the polls, it may not.
2. DTS absentee voters do not get a Democratic or Republican candidate choice for president unless you write or call the registrar to specifically request a ballot with party affiliated candidates, and the Democrats or Republicans have notified the Secretary of State by Sept. 23 that they will accept DTS voters! None of the serious candidates are listed on the DTS absentee ballot. If you don’t know this and wait too late, your vote will simply be lost on a nonpartisan candidate. Or, you may not be allowed to vote for a partisan candidate at all. To check the status of the notification, go to http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_decline.htm.
3. You could be fooled. One of the party choices on the registration form are the American Independents. This may appear to be an attractive choice for those wanting to stay independent of the two major parties. Unfortunately, if you choose this party, you may not realize that you have registered to belong to a right-wing fringe party, which, among other things, pledges to “… immediately terminate international trade agreements … stop foreign aid,” encourage the construction of dams and keep the federal government from owning or protecting any public domain lands. Be sure you are checking the correct box.
4. The right to vote on, and affiliate yourself with, a clear political philosophy has been hard won. The right to vote was won at the cost of many lives and was denied to a majority of citizens up until this last century. The right to voice our opinion, to choose one leader over another and one party philosophy over another, and the right to reject the current direction of our government by choosing another way is what makes this country great. Thousands of citizens in other countries are still systematically black-listed, tortured and even killed for taking a stand on issues relevant to their countries’ future and their own lives. We are safe to state our views in this country, and this carries with it a responsibility to do so. There are currently more than 11,000 decline-to-state voters in Nevada County! These votes matter and need to be channeled to a real decision for our next leaders.
Given all the reasons above, choosing to register as a DTS voter this year is a radically bad idea. I urge anyone who is interested in having a voice in the direction of this country to register with a party affiliation, to do so as a permanent absentee voter, and to vote in 2008.
Heidi Hall is a Grass Valley resident and a District 1 representative to the Nevada County Democratic Central Committee. For Nevada County registration information, go to http://www.mynevadacounty.com/elections.
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