Voting Is Your Obligation! Not Just Your Right!

20 Oct

I vote! Since I moved to Kansas and settled, I have voted in almost every election including primaries. I say almost, because for a long time I did not affiliate with either party. And as an independent, you cannot vote in primaries. But living in Kansas, I realized that being a registered Republican was the way to go, as that is the party where the most important primaries are held.

When I first got the right to vote, I remember my parents telling me that voting was not just a right, it was my obligation. If I did not like how the government ran, but I did not vote, then I had no grounds to complain. And then they pointed out that in Germany of the early 1930s if more ‘sane’ people had voted, perhaps there would not have been a Nazi Germany.   In fact the silent majority should never be silent. Their voices must be heard. And the ballot is a good place to be heard.

In college I studied politics as my minor. It was a good background for understanding the political process. Not one that is very pleasant right now, but I do understand it.

So for each and every election, I read. In the past it was just newspapers and articles in magazines. Interviews on television helped. But now with the internet, I do lots of research. In Kansas we even re-elect judges. There used to be a website to see how judges were rated. I went there as well. Now it is a little more difficult, but there is one to review the major judges.

Over the years I would keep a list of those candidates I wanted to vote for so that on Election Day I easily be able to cast my ballot. And I always listed the issues and the vote for those as well. At first my husband and I had separate views on voting, but over the years he slowly moved to my point of view. I vote for the person I think will do the best job whether they be democrat or republican. I have had signs for candidates from both parties on my lawn at the same time.

Eventually he just asked me for my list. We used to joke that I control his vote. But this led to conflict with our daughter.

When my daughter was a senior in high school, she took American Government as one of her classes. It is a class that all students need to take in Kansas, perhaps in other parts of the country as well.

It was early November. Not a big election, just local. We were at the dinner table when my husband asked me for the list, as he was going to vote early in the morning.   I had it ready. And as I gave it to him, I also explained the topics/issues that were going to be voted on, besides electing officials. I explained that for one a Yes vote really meant No and he should vote No, even though we were for a yes decision.

As we were discussing the list, my daughter started ranting.   “I cannot believe you are telling Dad who to vote for!! Don’t you know that in this country people do not have to tell who they are voting for?! It is private. Dad should be able to vote for and how he wants without you telling him!”

My husband and I looked at each other. And calmly, my husband responded, “Your Mom reads everything. She researches. She analyzes and she thinks about who and what will be the best vote for her. I respect your Mom’s opinion. And I do not have the time to do the research she does. She is not telling me who to vote for.   I am asking her.”

I thought it was great. Our daughter stomped to her room. And we continued the conversation.

2012 election, a long line to vote!

2012 election, a long line to vote early!

In Kansas we can vote early, so that Election Day is not so crazy.   And it helps especially for those who work long hours. I often go with a good friend and neighbor. We laugh because we know that we are cancelling out each other’s votes for most of the candidates. I think her husband thinks we are crazy. But we enjoy standing on line to vote.   Since my children vote I have been doing this more often with them.

Back to my daughter: that winter she turned 18. At her high school she could register to vote, which she did. I gave her the same speech my Dad gave me. In the fall she would be able to vote in her first election. It was a big one. President, senator, congressman, state and local officials were all up for election.

She sent away for her absentee ballot as she was in college in New Jersey. The ballot came back filled with names and issues.

The phone rang. It was my daughter.   “Mom,” she said contritely, “ could you email me the list?”

“What list?” I asked politely.

“You know what list. The list of whom you are voting for!” She said a little strongly.

“Nope. I cannot send you the list. I don’t want to tell you who to vote for. In the USA everyone gets to decide for themselves.” I thought telling her what she had yelled at us the previous year would make my point.

“OK, I understand what Dad was saying. There are so many people and issues on this ballot. I don’t know who to vote for. May I please have the list,” she responded. (I know these are not the exact words, but they are very close.)

So I emailed it to her. I now provide information for three voters. Since she lives out of the USA and does all her voting by absentee ballot. Since she does not know what is happening locally, I send her my list every year for her to fill her ballot. We do discuss the issues and the candidates. She can vote for whomever she wants to. But my list is the starting point.

As for my son, he is much more agreeable at times. And for voting, he never argued. He turned 18 one month before the 2008 election.   He was excited. He registered to vote immediately. In Kansas we don’t have primaries for presidential candidates; instead, we have a caucus. My son went with his Dad to the Democrat caucus. They allowed young people to come and caucus even if they were not registered Democrats. It was a great experience for him. The school was packed! What a wonderful lesson for everyone of democracy at work.

I was at the Republican caucus with my friend. We of course voted for different Republicans for president. But it was still an important part of the democratic process. And I am glad I participated.

When election time came in November, there was no discussion.   My son and I went early to vote. We stood on line together. I took a photo of him standing on line for his first election. A friend of mine is one of the election workers, and she was the one to sign him in for his first vote.   We were all excited. Voting is so important. I was glad my son let me go with!   I did not get to do this with my daughter, so I was excited to do it with my son.

He took his copy of the list and I took my copy of the list and we both went into separate voting booths and voted. I now advise four voters, myself included.

Voting is an obligation. Being an informed voter is also an obligation. Do not just go into the voting booth and push buttons. Know the issues. Know the candidates. Then vote! Yes my family takes my list. But I discuss every decision I have made with them. They have a choice. Once they are in their voting booth they can vote for whomever they want. I just provide information.

Remember now you have to bring identification to vote in Kansas. Do not miss your chance to have your voice heard.

Election Day is coming. VOTE!

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