Pay Attention, Voters!
The field of primary candidates has been finalized and the speculation about the projected winners and losers can begin. Candidates will be busy on the carnival and forum circuits.
Sign waving will commence at busy intersections. Door-to-door efforts will pick-up across the county, and porches will be littered with campaign literature. Yard signs will pop up in conspicuous locations. Most candidates will work hard for your vote from now until the primary in September.
Wait a second…is anyone awake out there?
Although there are a core group of local political enthusiasts, it seems the majority of the voting population could care less about the upcoming elections. Some might call my perspective jaded or cynical, but it’s what I’ve come to expect. It’s a sad, but true commentary that our electorate cares more about reality TV than civic duty.
Think about the last city election. Less than 18 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the primary and 23.8 percent turned out for the general election. This is disconcerting for many reasons.
Local elections are more important than national elections because your local officials make decisions that impact your daily quality of life. That’s not to say that national elections aren’t also important. However, when it comes to what you legally can and cannot do in your neighborhoods, cities and towns, it is predominantly the local officials who make those rules and regulations.
Want to build a house? You need permits from the county. Getting married or divorced? Registering a will? That’s all handled at the county courthouse. Need to get rid of your trash? That’s the county’s authority, too. Some of these examples may sound trivial, but without these services our communities would look vastly different.
Voters need to start paying attention and keep paying attention if they care at all about this county. With only two months until the primary, voters must begin doing their homework now. There’s no time to delay.
Voters need to look beyond the 100 word or less sound bites in the newspapers and attend candidate events and forums. Voters should also visit candidate websites to learn about the candidates’ platforms. If issues aren’t addressed on their websites, voters should personally reach out to the candidates through phone or e-mail. If a candidate is annoyed by your request or doesn’t respond, that speaks volumes to how he or she would handle constituent services, if elected.
Hot-button issues should – and will – be different for each voter. Don’t let candidates tell you what the issues are. Figure out the issues on your own. If candidates aren’t talking about an issue that’s important to you, ask questions and find out where each candidate stands. Be wary of candidates who focus solely on one issue and find out if they have a breadth of knowledge on other issues.
Being a voter is hard work and it should be. Voting is a privilege that we all-too-often take for granted. As voters, we’re tasked with shaping the direction of the county for the next four years. This is a task that must not be taken lightly. I urge you to look beyond the glossy campaign brochures and direct mail campaigns and find out who these candidates really are. Find out what they bring to the table and how they will lead our county for the next four years. Determine how they will work with others and what their priorities will be once in office.
You have a right and a responsibility to be educated on the candidates and their platforms. Find candidates who align with your beliefs and moral compass. Don’t buy in to the idea that it’s all a popularity contest. Vote your conscience.
I would love to see voter turnout over 25 percent for the primary and 45 percent for the general election, but my cynical side wonders if this is even a realistic wish. I hope you’ll prove me wrong in September and again in November. I beg you to take responsibility for the future of our county and our state.
Tuesday, August 24, 9 P.M. – Deadline for change of party affiliation.
Tuesday, August 24, 9 P.M. – Deadline to register to vote – Primary Election.
Friday, September 3 – Thursday, September 9 – Early Voting, 10 A.M. – 8 P.M. (except Sunday).
Tuesday, September 7 – Deadline to request an absentee ballot.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14 – 7 A.M.–8 P.M. – PRIMARY ELECTION
Monday, September 27 – Voter registration reopens.
Tuesday, October 12, 9 P.M. – Deadline to register to vote – General Election.
Friday, October 22 – Thursday, October 28 – Early Voting, 10 A.M. – 8 P.M. (except Sunday).
Tuesday, October 26 – Deadline to request an absentee ballot.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 2 – 7 A.M.–8 P.M. – GENERAL ELECTION
*Dates were obtained from the Frederick County Board of Elections website at http://frederickcountymd.gov/index.aspx?nid=1198.