This has been a frustrating election season for me. I was very fortunate that I was out of the country for the last presidential election. I definitely voted – applied for an absentee ballot and everything – but I was able to avoid all the propaganda. Well, not all of it. I did manage to get one piece of election material, for the Butler County Commissioner, go figure.
Let me mention too, that I have certain doubts about the voting process. The year following the last presidential election, I was back home and was able to vote. When I returned for the mid-term elections, I was given a provisional ballot because their records showed that I was in Japan still. Even though I was standing right in front of them with my license in hand, and proof that I had shown up in person the previous year, they would only let me complete the provisional ballot, which who knows if those even ever get counted?!
Anyway, this year has been frustrating. I remember a friend saying on Facebook that she had a conversation with a poller with the Republican Party asking if she would vote for Person A or Person B. She asked the woman if there were any better candidates? That’s how I feel pretty much across the board this time.
If you’re like me and still up in the air about who to vote for, might I make a suggestion to you? I’m not going to get into who you should or shouldn’t vote for – I want to point you to some great tools to help you decide.
A few years ago, I found this really wonderful website called Project Vote Smart. Here’s the “About Us” from the website:
At a unique research center located high in the Montana Rockies and far from the partisan influences of Washington, our staff, interns, and volunteers are working hard to strengthen the most essential component of democracy – access to information. Project Vote Smart is a non-partisan, nonprofit educational organization funded exclusively through individual contributions and philanthropic foundations.
I think what I love most about website is that it is non-partisan. Just taking the data that’s out there about the candidates (Presidential and Congressional) and organizing them into a logical format. On the website, you can look at most of the big issues and where different candidates stand on those issues. You can research a candidate and see their voting history, organization involvement in the past, financial records, and more!
One of the neatest things is something called a “Political Courage Test.” Project Vote Smart sent the Political Courage Test to candidates and asked them to answer questions honestly about a variety of topics: Abortion; Budget, Spending, and Taxes; Campaign Finance; Capital Punishment; Economy; Education; Environment and Energy; Foreign Policy; Guns; Health Care; Immigration; Same-Sex Marriage; Social Security and ; Administrative Priorities. Then, based on how many questions the candidate answers and how indepth they answer, they get a rating on their political courage.
Might I point out that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have not completed the Political Courage Test. In fact, they ignored repeated requests for them to complete it. Anyway, I really appreciate having the stance of the candidates in their own words on certain issues. It’s not all of where they stand, but it’s pretty comprehensive.
There’s also this super handy tool that’s even cooler than the Political Courage Test! It’s the “Vote Easy” matching tool! Check it (here):
You click which campaign you’re wondering about, Presidential is default, but you can also pick the Congressional candidates too. Then, using the topics at the top, answer questions how you would answer. THEN, the screen will populate with these fancy, awesome, cool picket boards with the candidate faces which will jump forward or backward depending on the percentage of similarity.
Pretty stinkin’ cool, huh?
Also, if you are in Butler County, OH, and would like to know what to expect on the ballot this year, you can run over to our trusty-dusty county elections site: http://www.butlercountyelections.org/
Here are the issues on our ballot this year:
- State Issue 1: Question presented pursuant to Article XVI, Section 3 of the Constitution of the State of Ohio
– Gov’t speak: “At the general election to be held in the year one thousand nine hundred and thirty-two, and in each twentieth year thereafter, the question: ‘Shall there be a convention to revise, alter, or amend the constitution[,]’ shall be submitted to the electors of the state; and in case a majority of the electors, voting for and against the calling of a convention, shall decide in favor of a convention, the general assembly, at its next session, shall provide, by law, for the election of delegates, and the assembling of such convention, as is provided in the preceding section; but no amendment of this constitution, agreed upon by any convention assembled in pursuance of this article, shall take effect, until the same shall have been submitted to the electors of the state, and adopted by a majority of those voting thereon.”
– Layman’s terms: do you want to vote for a convention to come together to revise, alter, or amend the State Constitution? If there’s a majority in favor of it, then a convention will be formed to decide any changes. If there are any changes decided upon, they can’t be made until Ohioans get to vote on it and get majority. (This issue was started in 1932 and every 20th yr election after that.)
– (added 11/4/12) My comment: I did a little research on this particular issue. It has been put on the ballot every 20 years since 1932, and I wanted to see if it had ever passed and how often. According to Ballotpedia.org, in the 4 elections that Issue 1 was on the ballot (1932, 1952, 1972, and 1992), it has been defeated. My fiance and I were thinking that if it were passed this year, it would open our state to passing legislation allowing same-sex marriage or other amendments that would not be desirable to a faith-based community. We decided we would be voting “No” on this issue.
- State Issue 2: To create a state-funded commission to draw legislative and congressional districts.
– Gov’t speak: (1) Remove the authority of elected representatives and grant new authority to appointed officials to establish congressional and
state legislative district lines. (2) Create a state funded commission of appointed officials from a limited pool of applicants to replace the aforementioned. (There are a whole lot of details on this step…I would check out the ballot for all the details.) (3) Require new legislative and congressional districts be immediately established by the Commission to replace the most recent districts adopted by elected representatives, which districts shall not be challenged except by court order until the next federal decennial census and apportionment. (4) Repeals current constitutional requirements for drawing legislative districts that avoid splits to counties, townships, municipalities and city wards where possible, and when not possible, limiting such divisions to only one division per governmental unit, and also repeals requirements to form as many whole legislative districts solely within a county as possible. (5) Mandate the General Assembly to appropriate all funds necessary to adequately fund the activities of the Commission.
– Layman’s terms: Appointed officials can put together a new commission to realign the congressional and legislative districts in the state. It will be State funded and the commission will be made up of applicants who are then chosen by a group of random 8 state judges in the Court of Appeals, who were chosen by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio. These will not be elected officials. There are quite a few requirements on how these people will be chosen, to create “fairness” to all political parties.
– My comment: I personally am not a fan because they are not people who we are electing. I understand that population and wealth may be distributed differently than when the districts were first put together, but let’s find a way to fix that with the people we’re voting for.
- Butler County Issue 24: Proposed Tax Levy (Renewal)
– Gov’t Speak: A renewal of a tax for the benefit of Butler County, Ohio, for the purpose of funding the Butler County Public Children Services Agency for services to abused, neglected, and dependent children at a rate not exceeding two (2) mills for each one dollar of valuation, which amounts to twenty cents ($0.20) for each one hundred dollars of valuation, for a period of five (5) years, commencing in 2013, first due in calendar year 2014.
– Layman’s terms: Renewal of a tax for Butler County Public Children’s Services Agency. Good for 5 years. Tax is existing and amounts to $0.20 for every $100.00 earned.
– My comment: We’re already paying this tax. It’s minimal. This is just to renew it. It’s for hurting kids. That’s a no-brainer to me.
There might be some city issues/ordinances that come up on your ballot. If you’re in Butler County, I suggest you check out the website and put in your address info to get a sample copy of YOUR ballot. If you’re out of this county, I’m sure there is something equivalent to it for your area. Check it out.
The most important thing is that you exercise your right to vote. Get out there and stand for what you believe. And if you don’t vote, you forfeit your right to complain about it. The only thing worse than not voting is not voting and then griping about it.