I have a confession to make. I have long undervalued my right to vote.
This morning was only my second time voting.
I’ve had good examples of citizens exercising their rights throughout my life, my parents always vote. Four years ago my mother even delayed seeing her newest infant granddaughter, my own baby girl, by a number of days in order to be present and cast her vote. She was wearing her “I voted” sticker when we picked her up at the air port.
Last night I stayed up into the wee sma’s researching candidates for positions I’d never heard of and didn’t understand. (To be fair to myself, this morning after getting some sleep all of the position titles on the ballot were fairly comprehensible) “How am I supposed to know what any of this means?” I thought in despair. “How am I supposed to decide which of these people I know nothing about will be the best at a job I know equally little about?”
“Shouldn’t I have learned this in school?”
“Who do I have to vote for to ensure that my children will learn this in school?” Then, I passed out and spent the night drooling on my keyboard.
Ok, that’s a lie.
What I’m getting at is this; I’ve been taught that voting is important. I understand that It’s my responsibility to have an opinion on the issues our society if facing and to express that opinion by voting. What I don’t understand is how on earth I’m ever supposed to form my opinion.
Where do you learn what the candidates actually stand for? How do you find the middle ground between what they say about themselves and what their opponents say about them? How do you even become aware of the more obscure positions and their candidates so you can do the research in the first place?
Anyway, I voted.
A few of my decisions were made by glancing over the websites of opposing candidates and picking the one who was playing nice. I mean to say, if one candidate’s site was focused on why not to vote for the opposition and the other’s site was focused on why to vote for them, I picked the one with the “vote for me” approach. That’s just plain good manners, besides, I don’t like negativity.
I’m obviously still rather muddled on how to go about making voting decisions and keeping up on the issues, I’ll have to work on that for next time. I did however, learn a few things about the actual process of casting one’s vote. Here are the things I learned.
First, try not to show up at the elementary school at the same time parents are dropping their kids off. Seriously, that’s a mess I don’t like to tangle with on the best of days. I suppose it follows to avoid pick-up time as well.
Second, be sure to get your sticker. I was getting in my car when it occurred to me that I didn’t get a sticker. I think I just missed them, but I don’t exactly remember seeing anyone else with a sticker either. Were there stickers?
If there were not stickers I’m going to have to figure out who to vote for in order to make sure there are stickers next time. It’s down-right un-American not to hand out stickers to voters.