Okay, the election is less than a week away. Probably many of you have voted already by using the absentee ballot. This is now a convenient option. I remember the time when you had to give a valid reason for using the absentee ballot. Well, my first opportunity to vote in an election was 1972. I voted absentee. My reason? I was in the Marine Corps stationed in Vietnam.
On election night, those of us living in the western states are subjected to all of the early returns which primarily address the votes tallied for the presidential race. Early predictions, based upon the percentage of votes received and the response from voters exiting the voting booth, often cause many of us out west to throw up our hands in disgust, saying, “Why bother to vote?” CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX have all predicted the likely winner.
Good question. If we already know the probable winner of the presidential race, why not stay home? Answer: Because there are a lot more issues at stake than the presidential election alone. It’s true that the presidential race receives all the attention. But many states are voting for the election, or reelection, of governors, senators, representatives and many local officials. There are also judges voted into office at the lower levels. I will admit that I did not take the election of judges very seriously when I first voted thirty-two years ago. But after seeing how judges have successfully changed law, often going counter to the wishes of the people, I’m much more conscientious in my choices for judgeships now.
In addition, there are many important ballot measures that each of us needs to be aware of in order to cast an informed, thoughtful vote. If we do not take an interest in these measures, those who may have a different view on the matter will determine its outcome. Your voice needs to be heard.
There are sixteen state measures on this year’s ballot. You may not believe it’s that important to vote once the presidential election is determined, but all these ballot measures will yet be decided. These are measures that often determine how much more money is going to be taken from us as taxpayers to pay for new programs. Some of these are good measures, some are not. So take the time to sit down and do your own homework. The two major political parties have these measures listed on their state web sites. The Republican Party web site (http://www.cagop.org/) lists all sixteen ballot measures on their home page. The Democratic Party web site (http://www.cadem.org/) lists all the measures, though you will need to search for it under the link “Election 2004.” Then follow the “Candidates and Propositions” link. Then click on the link, “Statewide Propositions.”
Here’s a little test. Are you, for example, aware that the two parties are taking opposite positions on eight of the sixteen issues? That in itself should get your attention. What issues might those be, you ask?
- First, Prop 61 is the Children’s Hospital Project. The Dems support it, and the GOP is opposed. Do you know why?
- How about Prop 63 – a measure seeking to levy a 1% tax on those with income over $1 million to finance Mental Health Services. Dems support – GOP oppose.
- Prop 64 deals with Limits on Private Enforcement of Unfair Business Competition. Dems oppose – GOP support.
- Prop 65 – Local Taxpayers & Public Safety Protection Act. Dems neutral – GOP oppose.
- Prop 66 – Limitations on ‘Three Strikes’ Law. Dems support – GOP oppose.
- Prop 69 – DNA Samples. Dems oppose – GOP support.
- Prop 71 – Stem Cell Research. Dems support – GOP oppose.
- Prop 72 – Health Care Coverage Requirements. Dems support – GOP oppose.
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (a Democrat) is up for reelection. U.S. Representative Richard Pombo (a Republican), 11th District, is up for reelection. Plus, we have our own local elections to the Ripon City Council, and the Fire District.
Your vote counts!
Remember this. New Mexico’s five electoral votes went to Al Gore in 2000 by slightly more than 300 votes. That’s the size of a small neighborhood – and these five electoral votes are what may have determined the outcome.
So, be sure to vote this Tuesday, even if you think you know who won the presidency. It will affect all of us.
Voting is a privilege, and a right we have as citizens. And, it’s the right thing to do.