What’s the worst statement to come out of any adult American’s mouth this week?
“I’m not voting!”
While all indications are that we’ll have a huge voter turnout this year, we’ve heard that some of you, especially those who feel disdain for the candidates at the top of the presidential ballot, are staying home.
If that’s you, we urge you to reconsider.
First, if you feel not voting will be read as some kind of protest statement on the presidential race, don’t expect your inaction to have an impact. Not voting can mean many things – you’re apathetic, you don’t understand the issues or many other reasons.
If you are not a Clinton or Trump supporter, you have several options. There are seven third party candidates on this year’s ballot in Minnesota. You can write in a presidential candidate.
But secondly and most important, not voting means you are giving up your opportunity to express your viewpoints on a host of local issues.
The sample ballot for one area suburb shows 39 races: Supreme Court, District Court, U.S. Congress, State Senate, State House, County Commissioner, City Council, School Board, Parks Commissioner and Soil and Water Conservation District.
Some cities and schools have bond or levy referendums. Some communities have elected hospital boards. All of us will have a Constitutional Amendment on our ballot.
Every single local race is vitally important to your community and to you. Think of the impact local leaders have on your daily life.
Local school boards set policies for the schools your children attend and hire the superintendent.
City councils determine police and fire department budgets, street maintenance and parks and recreation programs. Do you feel safe in your home? Does your city need better street maintenance? Is your street or road promptly plowed after a big snowfall?
Counties determine many transportation needs, plus social service programs, law enforcement policies and staffing of the sheriff’s department. Will your county board continue in the same path it is now? Or do you want change?
Together the three of them (school district, city and county) determine how much your property taxes will be in the coming year. Is it too high? Are you satisfied it’s money well-spent?
Next, think of your local state legislators. These people will be deciding big issues and passing large spending bills in 2017. What highways get funding? How much will the state education bill be? Will MNsure be dumped or saved? Our 2017 state legislature will make many important decisions.
Certainly the composition of the U.S. Congress when it convenes early in 2017 will have a huge impact on each of us as well as the future of our country. What will happen to the Affordable Care Act? Who will be the next Supreme Court Justice? Will our nation’s infrastructure get adequate funding to replace decaying bridges – with 810 of them in Minnesota, one of them might be just down the road from you.
Other races are often a surprise to voters. Why do I have 12 or 20 judges on my ballot, most of them unopposed? Just what does the regional parks commissioner do?
Again these have the power to make decisions that affect our lives on a very personal basis. Some metro parks commissions can also levy taxes.
We do expect strong voter turnout throughout Minnesota. Early voter registration numbers are at all-time high. The process is even easier this year with early voting options in every county and most city halls. We’ve traditionally been at the top in overall voter turnout. Let’s do that again this year.
Learn about all of the candidates. Read the voters guides that were published the past few weeks in your ECM newspaper (and are now all online on our websites).
Then vote. Leave the presidential portion empty if you wish – or write in someone you admire or choose one of the unique third party candidates.
Then move on down the ballot – think about how important these public bodies are to you and your family.
Vote wisely, vote with knowledge, vote with your concerns in mind.
Don’t you dare not vote. We’re counting on you!
— An opinion of the ECM Editorial Board. Reactions to this editorial — and to any commentary on these pages – are always welcome. Send to: [email protected].
Recap of ECM Editorial Board endorsements
The ECM Editorial Board has made the following endorsements for the 2017 election. We encourage everyone to consider these opinions – and to agree or disagree. Most importantly, we want you to think about who you will support and then vote:
1st District Congress – endorsement to incumbent Tim Walz, Democrat, over Republican challenger Tom Hagedorn.
2nd District Congress – seat being vacated by the retiring Republican John Kline. Endorsement to Angie Craig, Democrat, over Republican challenger Jason Lewis.
3rd District Congress – endorsement to challenger Terri Bonoff, Democrat, over incumbent Erik Paulsen.
4th District Congress – endorsement to incumbent Democrat Betty McCollum, over Republican challenger Greg Ryan.
5th District Congress – endorsement to incumbent Democrat Keith Ellison, over Republican opponent Frank Drake.
6th District Congress – endorsement to Republican incumbent Tom Emmer over Democratic challenger David Snyder.
8th District Congress – endorsement to Republican challenger Stewart Mills over incumbent Democrat Rick Nolan.
Also, the ECM Editorial Board has endorsed a yes vote for the Constitutional Amendment that will create an independent panel to set salaries of state legislators. The citizens-only committee would be appointed by the governor and the chief justice of the Supreme Court. (Remember that not voting on a Constitutional Amendment is counted as a no vote.)
Finally, we urge everyone to take this opportunity to speak out, to exercise your rights as an American citizen and vote.
Your voice is vitally important.