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Make an informed decision before you vote

By JANET SOWLE, Editor

JANET SOWLE

In the United States, if you are over the age of 18 and are registered, you have the opportunity to vote. Sadly, many people don’t care enough to do so.

According to Andy Barr at Politico.com, 130 million people voted in the 2008 election. That was a record number of voters. Still, that’s only 64 percent of the population, although more dead people voted in that election than ever have before. This proves that there are some serious flaws in our election process — but that’s another story completely.

There are people in the world who don’t have any say in how their country is run. Voting for their leaders or those who will represent them is a foreign thought. In some other parts of the world, some people are allowed to vote while others are not. In other countries only men are allowed to vote. In a democracy like the United States, you need to take advantage of your right to vote.

I think when I said above that you have the opportunity to vote, I should have maybe been a little clearer. I feel that you have a responsibility to vote. I also believe that if you don’t vote you don’t have a right to complain if the government makes a decision you don’t like. You didn’t vote? You don’t like the final decision? I don’t care. I don’t want to hear about it. You don’t like the way you’re being represented? Then get out there next time, research the other candidates running and get behind a candidate you believe in and campaign for them. Or better yet, get off the couch and run for office yourself.

Let me say now that I am fiercely independent. I have never voted straight ticket in my life and I never will. I know this frustrates several of my friends. Too bad. I personally believe that everyone must have a voice and a say in our government.

More importantly, I think that too many people vote for their party’s candidate without doing any research to see if they really do agree with what that candidate stands for. Just because that person has been chosen by your party to run for office doesn’t necessarily mean that person is the right one for the job. And please, do not consider what you see and read on facebook or on someone’s blog as “news.”

Most likely, if it is something that someone said, it has been taken out of context. In fact, whatever it is may not really be what the candidate believes. It’s entirely possible that the material has been fabricated just to make their point.

Do your own research. If a candidate says something you like or dislike, make sure you listen to their whole speech. You might find there is more to the story than you’re hearing. In addition, if you’re looking for news sources, go to reputable places with real journalists. Bloggers and citizen journalists aren’t trained to give an unbiased report.

The same is true of issues. Make sure you understand the issue before you go into the voting booth. Sometimes by voting “yes” you’re actually voting down an issue. Other times by voting “no” you’re approving an issue.

There is a push by some in this country to make voting day a vacation day at businesses so people would be more likely to get out and vote. I’m not sure if it would help or not, but I do want to see you at the polls on Nov. 6. After all, it’s our future we’re talking about. Don’t you want to have a say in what’s going to happen?

(Janet Sowle is the editor for The Laker Current.)

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