For voters in Fremont who are trying to figure out whether to vote for Measure E (the FUSD $650 million in bonds to upgrade/repair neighborhood schools), take the time to read the 2014 Long Range Facilities Plan on which the Measure is based on. It really breaks down what exactly the school district would do with the $650 million as to what the school district’s plans are for the next couple of decades.
While I realize that a majority of my readers may not be from either Fremont or Seattle, I’ve come to realize that when it comes to election season, there are a lot of people who go to the polls who may be not as educated in the US about the issues they see on the ballot. While there is nothing wrong with basing one’s decision on television ads, mailers, a meet and greet, or the state informational pamphlet, I try to take a comprehensive look at each candidate and ballot measure before I go to the polls. This way, I can articulate why I’m voting for a candidate, and make the best possible informed decision at the time with all the resources that I have at hand.
Voting is a civic institution that is really something that some of us have taken for granted. Yes, true, this is not really that big of an election year (the next one is in 2016). But at the same time voting in the US, and in a lot of other countries, has had a hard history, one that has been riddled with people not gaining the right to vote for their own governments because they weren’t judged citizens at one time or another. Civil rights and ethnicity based/community based political movements are even younger, and still evolving.
If one doesn’t vote in any election, what does that say about that person’s perspective of voting? How does that reflect on that person’s heritage? How does it reflect on the history and struggles that this country has had? What does that say about our own “democratically elected” government that s supposed to take into account even the minority? These are all questions to ask oneself, that have huge implications.
But often, the question that I have to ask myself, is what f I don’t know the candidates well enough? What if I don’t feel that I like any of them, have a reason to vote for any of them, or know their positions well enough? Am I comfortable with not voting for that particular ballot measure, or office? If I don’t vote, is that counted? Not really… because all you see on the election day results are who voted yes, and who voted no, not who abstained. Is not voting then purely symbolic? Does it really make sense not to vote?
What I’ve come to realize that if you feel that you aren’t qualified/haven’t been following the candidates nearly enough to make an informed decision, don’t vote. If you feel that you have enough information to make an informed decision, but still don’t like any of the candidates positions, don’t feel pressured to choose or even vote. Sure, your vote won’t be counted in that race, it won’t be registered as an office refusal, and it likely won’t make much of a difference. But voting is as much of a personal decision, as it is a communal one. As long as you feel comfortable not voting for a particular office in that election, that shows something personally, if not communally about the type of person you are.
That said, I will be starting a series of posts between now and November on how I approach the California general elections, what resources I use in my local context, and how others can find information/become more informed voters.
For those of you that are reading this that don’t know the context I am in, I am a registered California voter who lives in Fremont, in the East Bay Area/San Francisco Bay Area. Because our district wasn’t included in the 2012 post-redistricting election cycle, this election cycle I will be voting at almost all levels of government. That means that in November, I will be voting for candidates at the city level (two city council positions), county level (county administrators, including our Superintendent of the Board of Education), state level (all eight state officials, along with our representative for the Board of Equalization, State Assembly member, and State Senate member), and nationally for the representative representing my US House district. This election will also include any other county and state ballot measures that weren’t included on the June ballot.
Although I am a moderate independent voter, I will attempt to leave out of this blog my political opinions on a topic, instead turning to information from both sides of the aisle. That said I probably will never be able to speak from a totally objective view; neither will I be able to be totally objective in my sources; neither will my sources substitute any other additional information you might have (from candidate meet & greets, etc.) But in doing this, I hope to help other people make more informed decisions about who they should vote for.