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Why do you think it’s important to vote in local elections?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on April 3, 2007

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Photo of Kathy Barland

“It’s important because our city government should represent the will of the people who live here rather than a few individuals who feel they have the power to run the city.”

Photo of Miles Kim

“As far as politics go, it’s on the local level that they affect us immediately.”

Photo of Leah Newman

“So you have the right to complain about the local government. If you don’t vote, then you don’t have the right to complain.”

Photo of Jordan Kemler

“Because your voice counts. That one vote can make a difference, especially when it’s a smaller election.”

Comments

emily_litella 7 years ago

I'm voting against the erections. They're a plague on society!

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4th_grade_education 7 years ago

The First Amendment is also there to protect your right to not vote. If you do not agree with any of the candidates, why should you vote? You still have the right to criticize the government. Whether you voted or not is irrelevant.

It should be obvious, but voting and not voting are both forms of participation. Both avenues influence the election.

Leah Newman is clearly regurgitating some palaver she heard from a parent. Hopefully one day she will reach the age of reckoning and begin to have her own independent ideas.

To take her argument to its logical conclusion would also indicate that she has no right to complain. (This is assuming that she is not 18 because she is a junior in high school)
Does this also mean that she cannot speak positively about the government? Does the right to complain equal the right to praise? They seem equivalent to me. One man's complaint is another man's compliment.

Assuming that this is not what she meant, her statement is still absurd. By her argument, if you don't vote, you can only praise the government. Therefore, I suspect that many people who we hear ridiculing George W. Bush are violating this maxim.

Further, what about those who do not vote because they are either too unfamiliar with the candidates or unfamiliar with the issues. Many people do not vote because they are either mature enough to understand that their vote may have an impact and they understand the gravity of this and since they may not be as well informed as they need to be to make a responsible decision in the polls, they abstain. By the same token, this does not take into account those who understand that their own immaturity may influence their decision, and so they choose to abstain. There are a number of reasons why someone would not vote.

The primary reason people don't vote, though, is that one vote simply doesn't matter. Many people make the decision whether to go to the polls based on that person's individual circumstances, giving weight to the knowledge that their lone vote will probably not make any difference. Other things in an individual's life may be more important at a given time than going to a polling station to cast a vote which in the greater scheme of things is irrelevant.

Returning to my first point, not voting may also be an act of political protest. One may choose not to vote as an act of complaint about the government or the candidates.

The bottom line is that saying that one does not have the right to complain about the government merely because that person did not vote, is not only disturbing in a free speech and general liberty sense, but also incredibly immature.

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sgtwolverine 7 years ago

Crossfire, you figured that out much faster than WOPR. I nominate you to beat Matthew Broderick over the head with a chess board.

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Crossfire 7 years ago

Humm, Water tricks... Water attacks... Counter-attacks... Sunrise water bombing runs... Mid-night water cannons.... All out water war... ...and the final... Global Thermo-Aquatic Annihilation. No Winner...

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Pywacket 7 years ago

Crossfire~ Me, too! Been voting & complaining all my adult life, that is. And look where it's gotten me--cranky. At least (I like to believe) the venting serves the purpose of keeping my blood pressure low. At this rate, I should still be voting and complaining well into a stroke-free old age.

Re who gets wet first: Take it to another level--instead of tying the sprayer, tie down the spouse! Then spray at will. I think I'll buy mine a nice, inviting hammock. Then, when he's peacefully sleeping on a summer's day, I'll rope him in, grab the garden hose, and let fly. Maybe have one of the kids standing by with the video camera.

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sunflower_sue 7 years ago

RI, did you take your $20 off coupon? I know someone who knows the ammo dept so well that they can guide you over the phone to what you are looking for! :)

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blue73harley 7 years ago

R_I - you must be stockin' up on ammo for when the notorious "rightwingers" take over Larryville after the election. So I can see how your 2 hours was, in fact, election related.

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RETICENT_IRREVERENT 7 years ago

sue,

Does it matter?
Since I do not turn my work cell phone off, I am at work 24/7. Hence I am allowed 2 hours off to vote. I had a nice shopping trip to "The Worlds Foremost Outfitter" this morning.

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RETICENT_IRREVERENT 7 years ago

Crossfire, couranna1, "If you don't vote, then you don't have the right to complain." I also along with Pywacket do not ascribe such a narrow fundamental literal interpretation to her words.

Yes, The First Amendment allows for the voicing of one's opinion publicly, without fear of punishment or censorship, and the right to petition their government to correct or an injustice without fear of punishment.

This was done to protect public PARTICIPATION in our representative democracy.

Our what? you say?
Representative Democracy. We ELECT representatives who are charged with the responsibility of acting in the people's interest, but not always according to their wishes.

If people do not vote, they are still represented. But PUBLIC PARTICIPATION is a foundation of our government. Voting to chose who represents you is a civic duty. It starts with local government.

Bager has reinforced this.

"We the People", part of the preamble to the U.S. Constitution, in and of itself specifies just that. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION.

There are those who argue the Bill of Rights were not necessary, that the Constitution contained enough.
This was well argued in #84 of the Federalist Papers. "Here, in strictness, the people surrender nothing, and as they retain every thing, they have no need of particular reservations."

Besides voting for those who best share your views, contacting and talking to your representatives, to get your ideas and views heard is another civic duty. I talk with Lawrence's current mayor at least every other week. I write/e-mail my elected officials with support or disapproval for current issues, and concerns about other issues. . .

General complaining without actually doing something accomplishes nothing.

That is the point I believe Leah was making.

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Ceallach 7 years ago

I voted over my lunch hour, sadly, I was number 51 at that station. Pitiful, just pitiful.

No cake there either, maybe that would get some voters in, eh?

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sunflower_sue 7 years ago

RI, does your employer know that there is NEVER a line at your voting station? I went in around 12:30 and there were a whopping 35 (or some odd) names on the list. (I also found out that they do wipe the screens down with alcohol every so often.)

I think it's important to vote in local elections so that I can keep in touch with the ladies that run the station. They all ask about my kids...it's like a little reunion. Now if I could get them to serve cake or something...

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Crossfire 7 years ago

Pywacket, ...been voting and complaining about the results for a while now... For now I'll just tie down the trigger on the sprayer and see who gets wet first.

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badger 7 years ago

I think it's incredibly important to vote in local elections. Local politicians determine the day-to-day impact government will have on your life.

Local politicians make the choices that would turn Lawrence into Johnson County West or Topeka East. They make the choices that could protect local businesses so aggressively that the town utterly stagnates, that could pull or add police protection downtown.

They directly affect your property taxes, your children's schools, whether your employer expands or closes your office, how friendly the town is to new business, how well it protects and serves established businesses, and in general all the things that directly determne your quality of daily life.

In a recession economy, when things are scary nationwide, local government can make proactive decisions to help the community recover faster. When zoning decisions threaten the environment, local government can be tougher on polluters than the feds and choose to keep the community cleaner than law requires. When interests outside of town (for you all it's Johnson County; here in Austin it's the Californians and their McMansions) threaten to overrun the community and damage its unique character, good local government can preserve what keeps a community special without stifling growth (hint: Lawrence's has been good about neither part of that for the last few years, stifling good growth and encouraging unhealthy expansion).

A couple of months ago, I e-mailed my City Council with some concerns about a development project in an older Austin neighborhood. I received a personalized return e-mail from one of the Council members that specifically addressed my concerns, not just a form letter explaining why the decision was being made. I'll vote for the woman who sent me the e-mail again, though she and I disagree on the issue, because she took time out to explain how her decision had been made, and why she felt it was good for Austin. She and I disagree on strategy, but we both have a similar vision for Austin and a respect for what makes it special.

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Bone777 7 years ago

So you can bitch about the results.

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ms_canada 7 years ago

It always amazes me when they give the percentage of those who came out and voted or exercised their franchise as the saying goes. I wonder if it is the non-voters who complain the loudest when things don't go as they think they should. I don't know about Lawrence, but I do know that we have so many apathetic people here who just can't get off their derrieres and as the other saying goes, you get what you deserve. We, who do vote, could do a fair bit to get out and encourage others to vote, especially the youth, like grand kids and kids. Try to convince them of the importance of voting.

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sgtwolverine 7 years ago

I would override my personal ethics ... for a Klondike bar!

This question needn't be so specific. It could just ask, "Why do you think it's important to vote?"

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Pywacket 7 years ago

Crossfire~ I doubt Leah was speaking literally... I feel as she does. If I didn't vote, I wouldn't feel ethically right about b****ing. I know a lot of people who feel the same way. Legal has nothing to do with it. For that matter, there are plenty of other circumstances where personal ethics might override things we could legally get away with.

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hawkperchedatriverfront 7 years ago

Because after the election we can get drunk and trash downtown and the police will come and the new commission will request a study on how to SAVE DOWNTOWN....bring on the beer, drugs, and SEX...Lawrence is about to party!

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blue73harley 7 years ago

I wonder if inmate was able to cast an absentee ballot?

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macon47 7 years ago

If you vote at the united way building on Ridge ct. don't be scared away with the full parking lot And no place to park, they have having some Meeting and everyone parked in front (too lazy to come in from the back I guess) I doubt if they will have 50 voters by noon Cause no one can get into park

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acg 7 years ago

roflmao RI, that was awesome.

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Das_Ubermime 7 years ago

Well shoot, if soap boxes are a defense of liberty, we must be the Justice League of Lawrence!

The BIG! OTS: Protectors of Liberty and Klondike Bars! And Fruitcakes! And Zombies! Roundabouts... eh, not so much...

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RETICENT_IRREVERENT 7 years ago

There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Use in that order.

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couranna1 7 years ago

you are right crossfire you do not have to vote to have a voice whether that is to complain or not, plus the work thing is way cool

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The_Original_Bob 7 years ago

I think this question was on my final in 7th grade Civics class.

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Ceallach 7 years ago

what blue said goes for me too

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Crossfire 7 years ago

RETICENT_IRREVERENT, You might have the best reason yet...

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RETICENT_IRREVERENT 7 years ago

For the 2 hour late to work free pass...

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davidnta 7 years ago

To keep the Bushs, Devers, and Chestnuts from winning.

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trinity 7 years ago

'cos my mama always told me to. and i like to throw in my opinion. :)

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Das_Ubermime 7 years ago

You know, I never did until I had a city gov. which I disagreed with vehemently. I previously assumed that elected officials had a tendency to know what was going on and how to fix it better than I, but this decade has proved me wrong several times over on several levels of government.

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blue73harley 7 years ago

To prevent the Boogs, Schauners and Rundles of this world from, and I use the term loosely, "serving".

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Crossfire 7 years ago

Jonas, Kinda scarry huh...

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jonas 7 years ago

AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!! THEY'REEE HUUUUGE!!!!!!

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Crossfire 7 years ago

Leah, Read the First Amendment To The Constitution.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Voting is not required.

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