Two things got me thinking about how unaware many voters are about issues and candidates. In my reply to azmutt’s comment about hated political ads, I wrote about a robo-call from Renzi that blasts Ellen Simon:
Still, the robo-call could convince you she’s a wacko if you weren’t one who read beyond the headline on the front page of the newspaper or only watched the local news and a Larry King episode here and there. There are a lot of people who don’t pay attention. It’s these ads that are often the ONLY information people get about the candidates! Sigh. It’s frustrating.
At lunch today one of our student workers, a bright young woman, declared she wasn’t going to vote as she didn’t know “enough” about the propositions and candidates. When some of us explained that she can go in and vote for just one item that she does know something about and leave all the other stuff on the ballot blank she was surprised. “You can? I thought you had to vote for everything.”
People don’t understand voting.
How many people don’t know that if you ask for a mail-in ballot and at the last minute decide to go to their polling place on election day that you’ll get a provisional ballot and not a regular ballot? Instead, they can bring in their mail-in ballot to the polling place and hand it over.
How many people are aware about the ID requirement in Arizona and that if they don’t bring valid IDs (here’s a list of what is valid) they can’t vote? Short-sighted people assume that everyone has a valid driver’s license, but as someone who, in the past, helped identify folks who needed rides to the polls, I can tell you that there are some elderly citizens who do not have a license. If they don’t hear about other forms of ID then they’ll show up and be turned away.
How many people don’t know about early voting? They may be out of town on election day and want to vote, but don’t want to risk requesting a mail-in ballot as it may not arrive in town. They can go in early and vote. In fact, I’m heading down to the election office tomorrow to vote.
Another issue about voters: it’s not just a lack of knowledge about voting, but about the candidates. Sure, there are plenty of races that I don’t know about, but there are folks who don’t know anything.
I was phone-banking last week and I was calling folks in small towns in CD-1 asking them to vote for Ellen Simon, the Democratic candidate for CD-1. A simple question, “Have you heard about Ellen Simon, the candidate for representative of your district?” People answered no! Have they not seen all the mailers, heard all the robo-calls, even seen a sign along the road? It drove me crazy. Of course, when I then read a short paragraph about Simon’s career I’d ask again if we could count on their vote on November 7th. Some said, “Sure!”
I want them to vote for Simon, but listening to me read a few sentences convinces them to vote my way? So, when someone on the Republican side calls and does the same thing will they then decide to vote for Renzi? Don’t they want to ask me some questions about her? Don’t they want to get more information in the mail? Actually, one person did ask for more information and I was thrilled. My personal contact sets the stage and the information can seal the deal. Or someone who does know about the race telling me they are leaning my way – I love that. It’s folks who are clueless, but so persuadable.
All right, this is going on too long, but if you are feeling uncomfortable about your lack of knowledge, don’t let my raging stop you from voting. Remember, you can vote for just one thing. Maybe it’s the governor’s race, or a local school bond, or maybe a proposition that you care about. Please do it! As a citizen of this nation it’s our only responsibility for being in a democracy – getting out and voting.
Here are some helpful links about candidates and the propositions:
There are tons of resources out there. Take advantage of them. I’ll just put a plug in for some of the many candidates:
- Mark Manoil for Corporation Commission – he’s an Arizona boy who is smart, passionate, and dedicated.
- Jim Pederson for U.S. Senate – his opponent, Jon Kyl, has been part of the problem with Congress giving President Bush everything he wants, allowing for such mass incompetence in the running of the Iraq occupation.
- Gov. Janet Napolitano for governor – a no-brainer.
- Ellen Simon for CD-1 – Rick Renzi is part of the corruption that has overtaken Washington.
- Jo Kelleher for LD-1 – if I still lived in Kachina Village I’d be thrilled to vote for her. I’ve worked with Jo when she was only a part-time instructor. She cared about her students more than her own convenience. I respect that.
- Ann Kirkpatrick for LD-2 – she’s currently our representative in the Arizona legislature. I’d like to keep it that way.