Granted, I arrived at the polling station mid-morning on a working day and so there were no lines or snafus, and the entire process, from registration to marking my choices to inserting my ballot into the counting machine, took less than 5 minutes. Historically, only about 15% of eligible voters bother to go to the polls for state-only primary elections. Let’s face it; the campaigns and issues are not as enticing as in national elections, and certainly come nowhere near the tantalizing and transfixing candidate debates we are experiencing right now, so a lot of people will end their day not realizing that the voting sites were even open. And that’s too bad because, although lackluster, many of the races being decided in today’s primary and the issues being voted upon are far more important to our everyday lives than what we vote on in national elections.
For example, today I was asked to vote my preference for a Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice nominee, a Milwaukee County Executive candidate and a Milwaukee County Supervisor for my ward. All of these people, the political ideologies they have and the decisions they make, will arguably more directly affect my life than a State Senator, Representative of Congress or even the President. For that reason alone it’s important we take an interest in, and vote for, local politicians and the issues involved.
Far too often we hear family, friends and neighbors decry the state of affairs in our lives. Social media is full of daily whining, rants and raving from people who take time to type out their complaints on-line and let the rest of know how disgusted, despairing or fed-up they are with the world’s state of affairs but I wonder how many of them will actually vote today and try to make a difference?
Like many of you I have had the privilege to travel to many far-off countries, and quite a few of those places did not have the luxury of free elections. Those citizens were dictated to by tyrants and if there ever was the façade of an election day for them it was usually only to vote for a pre-chosen candidate. Now, many years later, one of the true delights I get is witnessing how seriously the citizens of these liberated countries take the right to vote in a truly free election and will travel, sometimes for miles, and line up, often for hours, and even risk their lives in order to earn the ink-stained finger showing they voted and show it proudly as they exit a polling place.
My experience today wasn’t that dramatic. I’m grateful for that. You should be, too.
If you’re a Wisconsin resident reading this before 8 PM Feb. 16, 2016 do your community and yourself a favor: go vote.