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Remember to vote!

Even though I’ve been busy with other stuff, I took time out over the weekend to research the candidates and issues in tomorrow’s election so that I could make a responsible decision at the polls tomorrow. After all, even though the midterm elections aren’t glamorous, every election is important — and those overlooked local races for “little” things like the board of education and the court of common pleas can be very important to people’s everyday lives.

I know there’s a lot of cynicism over the political process leading to low voter turnout. But low turnout is the root of the problem. As CJ Cregg said once in The West Wing (probably quoting somebody else), “Decisions are made by those who show up.” If most of us choose not to vote, then we surrender the decision-making process to the political machines and the lobbyists. Injustice thrives on the passivity of the electorate. So the only way to fight the things that make us cynical about the process is to vote more, not less. Even if we feel there’s no point, that the outcome is already decided or the candidates are all lousy, voting is still a good habit to get into, because if more of us vote regularly, then we can start having more influence in future elections.

So it’s important, not only to vote on election day, but to make the effort to vote responsibly, to research the candidates and the issues and try to make our choices on objective, non-partisan sources of information rather than campaign ads. Those can be hard to find, sadly, since news outlets are generally more concerned with reporting on the horse race and the conflicting claims of the candidates than with checking them against the evidence. But that’s why it’s important to be active rather than passive, to seek out better sources of information. The League of Women Voters offers a website for nonpartisan voter information (although I don’t have a good link to offer, since they’ve been rearranging things this year, and the link I found was local only), and there’s also a Ballotpedia for political races and a Judgepedia for judicial elections. Unfortunately, Ballotpedia is lacking information on some of the smaller local races, but I found it helpful. It also has a good list of voter education resources.

I suppose posting this the day before Election Day is too little, too late to convince many people to change their minds about going to the polls or researching the issues. But then, not a lot of people read my blog anyway. It’s still something that should be said.

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