12 May 12

Voting is Easy

I just finished filling out my ballot for the June 5 primary. I’m a permanent absentee voter because I like being able to be sure I’ve got plenty of time to fill the ballot out and really be sure of my answers. It is still possible for me to take my absentee ballot and vote on election day proper. I used to live in a place that voted at the local firehouse. Watching firemen lift weights while I stood in line to vote really made me appreciate my civic duty. For the last few years, though, my voting location has been an old folks’ home so now it’s back to absentee ballots.

Voting keeps getting easier and easier for me. My default position on ballot initiatives is no. Most of these initiatives are brought up by fringe special interests, or they’re hot-button issues that elected officials don’t want to take responsibility for so they push them off on voters. As long as I’m paying my state senator’s paycheck, they can do their job and make laws. I’ll vote yes on an initiative if it’s something really compelling.

Like I just totally voted yes to add another $1 a pack in taxes on cigarettes. The funds would go toward cancer research. Smoking is grody. It’s bad for smokers and the people who have to breathe in their filthy fumes and deal with the mess it makes. We all have our vices and ways to relax, but unlike having a beer at a restaurant, smoking is a vice that invades the space of non-smokers and creates a drain on our healthcare system in the form of elevated risk. If you’re going to be a smoker, fine. I won’t tell you to stop. But in return you should accept responsibility to chip in for treating the diseases you’re giving yourself.

Candidates are even easier to choose from. I just start by weeding out and vote for whoever is left. Here’s how I do it. I scratch a big X through the name if:

  • The candidate doesn’t have a website
  • The candidate’s website has malware or pop-up ads
  • The candidate did not bother to submit a profile for the state’s voter guide, which is totally free and easy to do.
  • The candidate’s profile doesn’t use complete sentences, presents no cohesive platform, talks about other candidates but says nothing about themselves, or consists solely of whining about the status quo

That narrows it down quite a bit, especially in cases like the current race for California’s U.S. Senate seat. There are 24 candidates on the ballot. Yeesh. However, only eleven submitted profiles for the voter guide. If you can’t take ten minutes to type up a paragraph about why I should vote for you, my confidence in your competence is not high. From there, it’s easy to cross out candidates based on red flags that pop out from the text. Here’s examples of candidate fail:

  • Orly Tatiz: “[Obama] is an Indonesian citizen.”
  • Elizabeth Emken: “I became Vice President of Autism Speaks
  • Robert Lauten: I’d quote him but his broken English offends my grammatical sensibilities.
  • Dan Hughes: “proud Reagan conservative.”
  • Dirk Allen Konopik: “Will boldly stand for Christ.”
  • Marsha Feinland: “The 1%” blah blah blah. Berkeley address.
  • Colleen Shea Fernald: “Dear congressionally betrayed voter”
  • Rogelio T. Gloria: “I am an experienced U.S. Naval Officer and federal employee.” (That was all he put.)
  • Al Ramirez: Second Amendment illegal immigration blah blah blah

Easy peasy! By crossing out people whose statements are irrelevant as to their fitness for office, I was left with only two to choose between. I used to try to vote by comparing all candidates as equals. That was draining and frustrating. It’s so much easier to do it this way now, sifting out the nutters and lazy folks from people who actually seem to understand the importance of representing me and so many other voters.