By Emily Rosen
I received the big envelope today — the one with a bunch of names, some of which ring a bell, others of which pull a blank – my “test” of citizenship. It’s my ballot for the local primary elections on Aug. 30 and my instinct is to put it aside and pray for the gods to fill it out judiciously for me. (Call your Supervisor of Elections if you haven’t received yours – Broward County : 954-712-1903, Palm Beach County: 561-276-1226)
Unless you’re a “party regular” or actually pay attention to the junk mail ads you get, how would you know what to believe? These people are a sea of faces with important jobs. But are, nonetheless, mostly invisible to the majority of us, including me – a political junkie – who is still faced with the dilemma of executing good choices.
Unless you make primary voting the focus of your life or you are an integral part of the inner circle of the party of your choice, you will be hard pressed to find the resources required to make informed decisions. You can tap a friend or an acquaintance, a person “who knows,” whose judgment is in alignment with your own, and copycat his or her choices, or you can follow the editorial lead of a newspaper of choice [The Observer Election issue is Aug. 25]. You can Google individual names and make judgments based on their experience, background and the position they take on issues, or you can go down the list, guessing and marking names as you used to do with multiple-choice tests in school.
www.vote411.org is a good source sponsored by the non-partisan League of Women Voters, providing information on candidates and the election process. In preparation for the Aug. 30 primary, the league has contacted each local candidate requesting that they complete questionnaires with biographical information and their positions on issues. Voters who go to this website enter their address and it shows only candidates who will be on their ballot. They can compare candidate information and even print out a ballot with their choices.
So while the kids are stocking up on their school supplies, buying new outfits and reconnecting with friends they haven’t seen all summer, it would be a good idea for you to go to “voting school” [to get informed] this month. Do you even know what district you are in? Decide on who you want for state attorney, state senator for your district, circuit judge for your judicial circuit … There are several groups on several ballots, county court judges, school board members, the office of sheriff, property appraiser, supervisor of elections, amendments to the Florida constitution and questions on local ordinances.
Boring? It may not be fun, folks – but it is the bedrock of our democracy which is the ultimate greatness of our country. If we don’t make it our business to become informed about our local governance, then we will no longer have legitimate “griping rights.” Granted — it’s not as exciting as national politics, but this is where it all begins folks.