Why Bother to Vote?

Posted on: September 28, 2012

Howdy Tokers! It’s Election Time again!

Are YOU registered to Vote? Some of you may even be thinking “Why vote? Why bother?” In his article for Fox News journalist Peter Roff writes:

…it matters that you vote. It is your voice – and the only person who can silence your voice is you. So applaud, complain, march, protest, petition – these are your rights but, without your vote, they are meaningless actions, backed up by nothing.

As citizens, WE are in charge of hiring and firing our Senators, our Representatives and our President. It is both our right and our responsibility to vote for those candidates who we feel best represent our interests in Washington, D.C. and in Austin, Texas. As ACTIVISTS, not voting when we are eligible* to do so is equivalent to holding a bullhorn at a rally and saying NOTHING.

Oftentimes in this chaotic economic and social climate, it’s very difficult to decide between candidates. Each party, when not blacked out by the media and prohibited from taking part in televised debates, makes their pitch to the American voting public. Although you’d never know it from watching the evening news, we have FOUR presidential candidates in 2012! Three of those candidates will be on the ballot in 50 states! Many people – far too many people – don’t even know who Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are, much less that they’re running for President of the United States in November. Many people, although certainly not all, will cast their vote for one of the two major parties like they’ve “always done” without really knowing for whom and for what they are voting.

Homework Time – Government 101

Make a commitment now to learn who is running for office in November and examine his or her track record. Look up your voting precinct. Download a Sample Ballot. And then research those candidates and issues which you will face in the voting box on November 6th! It feels GOOD to be an educated voter!

Educate yourself on our Presidential candidates

The four Presidential candidates who will appear on your Texas ballot in November are:

Know your Senators

Every state has two. In Texas, your senators are John Cornyn, a Republican whose Senate term ends on January 1, 2015, and Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Republican Senator retiring this January rather than seeking re-election. The Senate seat she vacates will be filled in the November election. Get to know these candidates – ALL of these candidates – and vote accordingly!

Know your Representatives

Texas has 32 Representatives to Congress, chosen by voters based upon Congressional districts. All US Representatives serve two-year terms; elections are held every even-numbered year. All US Representatives are running for re-election on November 6, 2012 and again in November 2014.

Determine your Congressional District (by address), as well as who currently represents you! Congress.org lists all races for US House of Representatives with links to their campaign websites. I did note on this site that in many of our Representative races the incumbent is uncontested. It is difficult to vote for change when there are no other options on the ballot. Also note that third and fourth party candidates, Libertarian and Green Parties, are listed as “Other” on this site. Please educate yourself about these candidates as well.

Voting Guides:

Becoming an educated voter doesn’t have to be all work and no play! Interactive Voter tools are all over the internet. While I would not recommend user any single quiz-type app to decide who will win your vote in the upcoming election, they often provide insight into which candidates truly stand for the same issues and policies in which you personally believe.

  • Project Vote Smart has an interactive guide, Vote Easy, which matches your views on the issues with those of the candidates. Where candidates have not responded to Vote Smart’s surveys, positions are inferred from available public information.
  • Select Smart has their 2012 Presidential Candidate Selector, including stances on the issues from all four political candidates for President.
  • I Side With has a similar election quiz, with an additional feature which shows who voters statewide Side With.
  • Vote Help is a 2012 “nonpartisan Presidential candidate calculator quiz”, designed to determine which of the two largest party candidates align most closely on the issues important to you. In its quest for ‘nonpartisan’ reporting, this site fails to include Gary Johnson or Jill Stein.
  • Last but certainly not least, NORML’s Smoke-the-Vote maintains a voter guide summarizing candidate positions on issues near and dear to the activist’s heart – statements and stances on Marijuana Legalization and the candidates’ views on Medical Marijuana.

Although DFW NORML does NOT support or recommend candidates or political parties, we urge you to review the positions of each and EVERY political candidate running for office in November, particularly those with whom you are least familiar. You can start today!

  • Confirm that you are a registered voter. Am I registered?
  • Re-register if you have moved from one county to another.
  • And if you’re NOT registered, do so now! Voter Applications must be postmarked no later than Tuesday, October 9, 2012 and can be printed for mailing from the Texas Secretary of State.

You can also register to vote in person at our Monthly Meeting on Saturday at the Free Man Cajun Café in Deep Ellum. Look me up and I’ll personally give you a Voter Application! DFW NORML offers Voter Registration at all meetings and events! If you don’t see the signs, just ask!

The most important political office is that of the private citizen.
~Louis Brandeis

Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.
~George Jean Nathan

Herb’s the Word
Ending Prohibition One Texan (Voter) at a Time!

* Regarding your eligibility for voting: Many persons erroneously assume that because they’ve been convicted of a crime in Texas they’re ineligible to vote. This is not always the case! From the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website, even a convicted felon is eligible to vote upon completion of his or her sentence! If in doubt, attend our next meeting and discuss the matter with qualified attorneys who are members of DFW NORML!