A Very Special Day

Voting Booth

Voting Booth (Photo credit: mhaithaca)

Tomorrow is a very special day. Do not feel bad if you have forgotten. Two thirds of your fellow Americans usually forget, and probably will tomorrow too. Some years they remember it better. Even numbered years do better, and years divisible by four do the best. Odd numbered years, however, are usually skipped over. I am speaking, of course, of Election Day.

I know we do not have any Congressmen, Senators, or Presidents to elect. Most of us do not even have Assemblymen or Governors to vote for, though a few do. Still, in many ways these off-year elections are some of the most important and while I am not the least bit surprised that people forget to get out and do the minimum required of them in a participatory democracy, I am deeply disappointed.

I am disappointed because too often we complain about the state of our towns and counties and yet too seldom bother to vote for the people who will be trusted to make their rules and administer their public works. Our towns and cities are the communities that affect us the most directly yet we usually do not care to be actively involved with how they are run. Some of us, of course, can vote with our feet, moving to a new town, but many cannot, and even those that can fail to do so, preferring to carp unless things get really bad.

These men and women who are elected by pitifully small numbers of your neighbors are your employees. You owe it to your community, of course, but even more so to yourself to give them a performance review, and if necessary, their walking papers. In smaller communities this may be awkward, since your Board of Trustees might be sitting next to you in church, but they ran promising to do a job, and if they are not doing so, then you need to show them the door.

Hey, think of it this way, if you are not voting in tomorrow’s elections for mayor, city council, county legislature and town board, then you are increasing the chances that the neighbor you think is an idiot is making that choice for you. By being part of the historically low turnout for these elections, you are making a statement that you do not care what they do, so they may as well do what they want. If that is what you want to tell them, well then OK, but if you feel otherwise, but do nothing about it, well, you have the right to complain, but you will be a fool for doing so. I am sure that is a label you would just as soon do without. So celebrate tomorrow by getting to the polls and showing that you know that ALL elections matter, not just the big ones.

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