November 7, 2011 Get Ready to Vote

It’s time to get ready to vote. 

If you’re like me, that means taking your mail-in ballot out of the pile of papers on your desk and studying it for the last time.  It has been waiting there for me for some days now.  I avoid voting early; it always seems like there’s some last minute scandal or revelation that makes me re-think a ballot measure or candidate.  So here I am today, perusing my ballot, looking at the voter pamphlet one more time and connecting the arrows preparatory to dropping it off tomorrow.

I dislike voting by mail.  I liked it much better when we all cast our ballots on the same day, and when we actually had to gather at a polling place to do so.  There was something uplifting about walking down to the polling place and standing in line with other people who were about to have their say on our government.  Sticking my little ‘I voted’ sticker on my jacket, and having a conversation about it with my grandchildren later.  Some years I was able to take kids with me when I went to the polling place.  It was a time to talking with them about voting and what it means.  I miss that. But I won’t miss voting.

It disheartens me a bit when I see that in several of our races, candidates are running unopposed.  It discourages me even more when I see that the paper is predicting a low turn out for the vote.  In times like these, when things are hard and there is great unrest, why would the voter turn out be low?  I don’t understand that.  Occupy movements and demonstrations are great ways to make people aware of issues.  Voting is a way to actually do something about those issues in a very immediate way. 

If you’ve been considering not voting this year, I hope you’ll rethink it. Even if there is only one measure you think worthy of your attention, mark that ballot and send it out.  Even if there is not one politician you want to vote for, then turn in your ballot unmarked.  Speak out in that way. Or follow the old tradition of writing in Alfred E. Neuman  and voting for him.

Harsh as it sounds, if you don’t vote, then quit complaining.  Pushing a pencil across a piece of paper is the most significant thing you can do tomorrow if you want to change your government.  Or if you want to keep it the same.  Here in Pierce County, Washington, my vote will influence diverse decisions from making the county save some money when we have a surplus to how we enforce marijuana possession laws and how we deal with our 911 systems. 

No matter where in the US you are or what you are voting for, whether I would agree with you choices or not, I urge you to vote.   Let us be heard.


8 Responses to November 7, 2011 Get Ready to Vote

  1. I believe voting should be compulsary.
    That is how we do itin Australia. Failing to vote carries a significant fine.

    We still get some x% voting for the donkey party each year, but in its own way, at least that is recorded. (Just in case the terminology is lost on you, a donkey vote is an intentially blank or invalid vote).

    The way that the vote swings depending on who can motivate the most people to vote at all, doesn’t sit well with me. There is enough advertising around voting here… I can’t imagine what we’d have to do to encourage people to actually get up and vote if it wasn’t.

  2. Having a choice between X amount of people, none of which you’d trust with your wallet, let alone wish to give years of dictatorial power over yourself, does not a democracy make.

    “save some money when we have a surplus to how we enforce marijuana possession laws and how we deal with” <- it's the "we" that doesn't work here. Democracy does not work when the total amount of people involved is more than you can fit in a room. Neither does communism, for the same reasons. You just end up giving far too much power to people who will use it to abuse you.

  3. So. Your suggestion is? And that isn’t meant as a snarky comment, but as a genuine query.

    Here’s a very selfish way to view the voting process. If I take action, and it may involve campaign volunteering or just putting a sign on my lawn or solely casting my vote, I move the government one step closer to being what I want it to be. I don’t always get my way, but at least I have my say. And sometimes I do get my way.

    Do you have a different way that you propose?

  4. Whilst I agree with you on principle about voting, the sad reality is that the powers that be in politics long stopped being actually accountable to their electorate.
    Elections are all just a big merry go round in PR and large spends and advertising, and bear little or no relevance to having much swing over how politicians will act once they gain office.
    In a way, it could be suggested, that participating in this false veneer of a sham of a system that presents itself as democracy… Is actually validating the current broken state of politics, and perpetuating the status quo.
    If the north african revolutions have told us anything, its that corruption will remain in place until drastic measures are taken.
    And make no mistake, the govts in your and my country (UK) are corrupt.
    The power of the vote has been watered down to nothingness, with consumer culture and media scare tactics pushing us to conform. We have allowed ourselves to be bought and paid for with flat screen tv’s.
    Now don’t mistake me, I don’t advocate violent uprising, the side effects are a little too messy for my liking.
    But if everyone were to actually mobilise together en masse they do have real power.
    Real power to unionise against terrible wages, and labour conditions.
    Real power to boycott companies that push their own profits at the expense of us, and our environment.
    Real power to take our money out of the wall street banking sector and put it elsewhere, so they haven’t a bankroll for their games of internal hegemony.

    Anyway sorry for ranting on your blog, I do subscribe to the Idea of democracy, I just don’t think that we have one in any significant measure.
    Have just finished Dragon Haven, and I found it to be excellent, I came here to see when the next in the series is due.

    Warm regards.

  5. In the UK, City of Dragons is scheduled for April 2012.

    I can sympathize with your feelings of futility about voting.
    But the fact is, over my years of being a voter, I’ve seen the voters stand up to the government and give it a resounding ‘no’, and more than once. In this most recent election here, it happened on a couple of issues.

    Here in the US, in our states and counties and cities, we often get to vote on particular questions, in addition to selecting from candidates. Thus, in Tacoma, the voters ruled that the police should give ticketing marijuana offenses their lowest priority. In Washington, our liquor stores were just removed from being state liquor stores and will now be run as private businesses. We also voted to tax ourselves in order to upgrade our 911 emergency response system. There were a number of other measures we voted on, and in all of them, the majority who voted decided what would happen. And we were given the opportunity to put into power various school and park commisioners, that is, to choose the ones who most closely agreed with our own personal feelings. How is that not real power, the same real power as when people shift their funds from a bank to a credit union?

    It’s an imperfect system, I agree. Candidates can promise one thing, and then do another in office. But then we can vote them out, or even impeach them if they are exceptionally devious.

    And until we come up with something better, I think the more people who vote, the more power we wield.

    And thanks for being interested in my books! 🙂 And for an interesting discussion.

  6. Reminds me of a really good quote:

    It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government… except for all of the others that have been tried.
    Sir Winston Churchill
    (1874 – 1965)

    Keep writing the killer novels, and we’ll keep coming back!:)

  7. Hi Robin,

    I just wanted to give you a quick thank you for the Farseer trilogy. My friend Max forced me to read it, and it has been a huge joy. I haven’t read fantasy for ages, and you do it so well, with some powerful insights spoken plainly, as was ever the best way.

    Seriously, what a pleasure. I won’t waste your time, and this probably isn’t the right place (considering tis all political and all…) but I was going through a rough spot (nothing horrible, just a rough place). Withdrawing from the world and getting into your one has been a big help while I get myself back on track.

    Anyway, thank you. My fiance will be glad I’m done so I don’t keep going on at her. To be honest, I’m glad I’m done, so I can start doing other things with myself!

    And a last time, thank you. When I entered the novels “it seemed we were in a place we had entered as strangers, and discovered to be home”.

    Nothing may ever be simple and good, but I feel that your books impact on me was just that 🙂

    clearly sycophantic,