7 November 2016
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Vote!  (Yes, You!)

We’re in the middle of Even Year Frenzy—not because of the World Series

(the SF Giants were eliminated).  No, it’s election season, with its overburdened letter carriers and ritual pestering about casting ballots that soon starts to sound like the ravings of your dental hygienist nagging you to floss.  Here are reasons to take part in Votapalooza anyway.

—–Those who vote by mail, like the residents of Oregon, add revenue to our beloved employer,  while avoiding lines at the polls.

—–Government by the consent of the governed still means something. Think about all the terrible laws imposed in this country on those who were prohibited from voting.

—–A handful of votes can determine an election. Many years ago,  a president of this APWU Local was elected by three votes.  President Obama noted that in 2008,  the North Carolina precincts he carried were won by an average of two votes per precinct.

—–Even if you can’t support any of the presidential candidates this year, there are down-ballot candidates to consider.  Here in California,  we also have a number of state propositions on the ballot.  This year voters get to weigh in on everything  from drug prices to the death penalty. Think about it: a handful of votes could mean the difference between allowing the executions of the hundreds of people on Death Row and leaving them in prison for life, thereby avoiding putting to death some who might be innocent.  You can’t say your vote doesn’t count.

It’s true that ballot measures are sometimes written so badly that it is hard to predict the long-term effects. Take Proposition 61. Voting to lower prescription drug prices sounds like simple common sense, given that the prices of medicines in this country are far higher than they are anywhere else. Yet only 12% of Californians would be affected by the measure, and there is no guaranteed way for one state to force large pharmaceutical companies to negotiate prices. Not so simple after all, is it?  In a year with 17 ballot measures,  getting ready to vote feels like doing homework.

Local candidates for transit boards and judgeships can be so unfamiliar that it is tempting to choose them randomly.  The only recourse you have there is to read the candidates’ statements and hope they’re not lying their heads off. (One Texas candidate for a commissioner’s office is running a very amusing television ad showing his wife explaining that the man has no hobbies—he just wants to fix things.

“Please reelect Gerald. Please!”  Win or lose, he will be remembered.)

As President Obama just said, “If you have time to get a free taco from Taco Bell, you have time to vote.”


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