Saturday, April 1, 2017

Casting a ballot to maintain status quo

I went to an early voting center Friday, and came walking out of the polling place feeling like I did my part to maintain the political status quo. Nothing more!
Many of us haven't paid the least bit of attention. Photograph by Gregory Tejeda
It’s election cycles like this one that I envision cause many people to think there is no point to the process. As it was, when I arrived in the morning, no one was present. I got to walk right up, pick a voting machine, and cast my ballot for the municipal elections that my current residence gives me a say in.

ACTUALLY, MOST OF the posts that I was given a say in turned out to be ones in which the incumbents ran unopposed. The school boards in my area had some choices, but they were literally cases where I was to pick multiple members and the number of “losers” will be few.

From what I can tell, I’m in the norm.

It was last week that Cook County Clerk David Orr said that 67 percent of the posts that were up for grabs across the county were unopposed. Only 334 of the 1,031 contests had challengers.

For a couple of posts, there literally were no choices. I was asked to “write in” a name. Perhaps I should have proclaimed myself to be a candidate. It would have been as legitimate as anyone else.

FOR THE RECORD, I’m not a candidate for any office. I left those spots blank.

Now the reason I cast my ballot early even though I didn’t have any extreme sentiments in favor of any specific candidates (although I have to admit the mayor in the municipality I’m currently residing seems like an affable sort and probably is qualified – which is good because no one else seems to want the post) is because of my professional duties.

I’m not sure yet if I’m needed by anybody for Election Day work. So getting things out of the way in casting a ballot now when I had a free morning just made some sense.

It really makes sense in those election cycles where there is interest and the early voting centers can be a way to avoid long lines. Which I’m pretty confident I can get away with saying that Tuesday will not have.

BUT THIS ISN’T a presidential cycle. It’s not even a run for the state Legislature, which is a post that many people theoretically comprehend has some significance, but in many cases can’t be persuaded to get off their keisters to cast a ballot.

In many cases, they don’t even know who their legislators are – and I doubt anything will happen between now and the next election cycle those people run in that the public will become better informed.

This is the municipal level, where the government geeks like to believe is the one where all the “real” governing is done. The tax levies are approved that set the property taxes on your home

The local ordinances are set that determine the particular quirks for your community.

BUT TOO MANY of us take the attitude of actor Carrol O’Connor’s “Archie Bunker” character who on "All in the Family" supposedly went for decades without voting, and said he wasn’t about to waste his ballot on petty little offices. Only the big ones for him!

Perhaps we are better off if people who can’t be bothered to learn about their local governments stay out. I’m sure there are those who think the 2016 presidential election was one in which clueless people cast ballots – thereby causing chaos for the masses.

But I do seriously believe that we as a society are better off if we educate ourselves about what is happening around us and take a public interest. Even if it’s just so we can make educated arguments about how messed up our government officials are.

That’s why I felt compelled to cast my ballot for the status quo. I want the “right” to tell my government officials how “wrong” they are.


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