Random Thoughts and Musings by moi

Musings by a feisty, opinionated Deaf gal who wants nothing but the best for her community and her people

mardi 6 juin 2006

A GOOD step backwards!

Just finished voting and a few errands. My county has been voting using Diebold machines for a few years now, and most of the time I considered opting to vote absentee, just to have a paper record of my vote. This time, though, thanks to a new state law requiring a paper trail, they tossed the Diebolds and brought in optical scanners. They hope that new computers that will print out each voter's ballot will be certified in time for the November election, but they weren't certified in time for this one.

I am thrilled because I don't trust Diebold to record my vote and I believe the ability to double-check in case of problems is crucial. So far I've voted using 3 different systems. The first one was the punch-card ballots, with chads. I personally loved doing it. I loved poking the hole containing my choice - it had a very satisfying kinesthetic feel. The second one was the Diebold system. The third, which I hadn't used until today, was the optical method. I was handed a ballot and a black felt pen. I went to the booth and filled in bubbles, which brought back memories of the SATs and all the standardized tests I've had to take. I miss the punch cards, but I know they aren't coming back. I liked filling in the bubbles and feeling the solidness of the paper in my hand. I wouldn't mind continuing, but apparently it takes too long to count votes. Hmm. Some people were complaining about the "step backwards," but as far as I'm concerned, this was a good step backwards.

People who know me know I'm a political junkie, and I'm probably one of the best informed voters around... usually. Today, nope. What with the craziness my life has been for the past several months due to taking more than a full-time graduate courseload and working full-time in an incredibly demanding job, I haven't really been following anything. I hadda page a couple of friends to ask for their input (thanks, you two! *smile*) and do a quick half-hour of searching to print out my sample ballot (mine never came!) and reading/marking it. I felt so ignorant and like I shouldn't be voting, so my ballot had many blank spots. I feel strongly about being an informed voter. Voting is a right, but it is also a responsibility. I could not in good conscience mark names of people I did not know enough about to distinguish them from others on the ballot. People talk about the need to get more people to vote. I disagree. If people are uninformed, I'd prefer they not vote, frankly. Often the issues and people are not black and white. There are so many shades of gray that require sifting, sorting, discussing, and considering (though not necessarily in that order!) Even hot-button issues like abortion and gun control shouldn't be reduced to simple sound bites, no matter which way the sound bites lean, because they aren't that simple. Again, voters should take this right and responsibility seriously and do some research and analysis before participating in democracy (at least what passes for democracy these days).

I do not normally say this because I believe in respecting people's choices, but while we're on the topic of voting, I'd like to say it. I believe that people who do not vote do not have much or any right to complain about the way our government runs things. Why, you ask? Why, it's because they chose not to have input in the decision-making process. Yes, there is some question about whether one's vote truly counts these days, and those concerns are valid. However, that should not stop one from exercising the right to vote if one is truly interested and cares about our country and the direction it's headed in. For democracy to succeed, it requires citizen participation, and if those who follow events and decisions do not participate by voting and writing letters, it will not succeed.

With all this in mind, I will be doing more research before the November election to decide whom I want to support and what position to take on the various propositions that are sure to be on the ballot.