Read Before Voting: Six things every citizen needs to know

We need a seal around every ballot or a warning on every voting machine.  It should be like the seal that comes around a medicine bottle or the warning label on an electrical appliance.  You must read it before you use.

A ballot is the most important tool a citizen has at his or her disposal, but when it is used incorrectly, the results can be disastrous.  There should be some education involved.  It is this lack of instruction that has left this country on the brink of economic collapse.

1.    Do I have to vote for every office or every ballot measure?

No.  If you are unfamiliar with the candidates for a particular office or the implications of a ballot measure just leave those boxes blank.

The majority of voters are unsure about this.  They are invested in the candidates they come to the polls to support but they know little or nothing about the rest.  However, they are afraid that if they do not check at least one box for every office, their ballot will be thrown out, so they go down the ballot and vote for any name that sounds the least bit familiar or simply check the boxes besides “incumbent.”  That is why most office holders stay in office for life, no matter how poorly those office holders perform.

2.    Who are my key representatives at the various levels of government?

There are 16 in all:

•    The U.S. Government Five: President, Vice President, (two) Senators and a Congressional Representative.
•    The State Government Five: Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, State Senator, State Assemblyman.
•    The Local Government Six:  Mayor, City Councilman, School Board Member, County Supervisor, District    Attorney and Sheriff.

Seriously, how can you possibly cast an intelligent vote on these offices, if you don’t know who the present office holders are?  We need voting machines that ask a voters to identify  their current representatives before they can go to the next step.  For example, if a voter can only name the current governor and the mayor, those are the offices that show up on his or her ballot.

3.     How can I find the names of all the people who represent me?

Call the office of your local Registrar of Voters.  It’s in the “County” listings in the front of the White Pages of your phone book.  Give the person who answers the phone your zip code.  He or she will be happy to give you a list of your key representatives.

4.      How can I contact each one?

Their offices are listed in the front of the White Pages of your phone book under Federal, State, County and City listings.  A simply way to call your representatives in Washington, D.C. is to use the Capitol Switchboard.  The number is 202-224-3121.  Ask for your congressional representative or your senators by name.

5.       Who do I hold accountable for the growing national debt?

Your congressman is primarily responsible.  Our Founding Father’s knew how import it was to keep a tight reign on the nation’s purse strings.  That’s why they gave the 435 members of the House of Representatives, who are equally divided among the people, the ability to tax and spend.  That is why they made them stand for re-election every other year, so that we could hold them accountable.

All tax and spend bills must originate in the House of Representatives.  Your senators and the president bare some degree of responsibility.  The Senate must concur with each tax or spend measure.  Then, the president can either sign or veto (send back) the bill.   However, it is important to remember that, although the president can submit a budget and suggest, he does not have the power to spend one dime that is not authorized and appropriated by Congress.

Your congressman is your closest link to Washington and is the chief culprit when it comes to the national debt.  Unfortunately, most voters do not even know his name.

6.    How can I tell if my congressman and senators are doing a good job?

There are a number of good organizations that make this task easy for you.  The non-partisan  National Taxpayer’s Union Foundation http://www.ntu.org issues a report card on the House of Representatives and the Senate each and every year.  If you can read down and across you will no instantly if your congressman and senators are “keepers” or should be replaced.  However, it is important to remember that NTU grades on the curve.  With the amount of our national debt, anyone who scores less than an “A” should be dumped.

8 thoughts on “Read Before Voting: Six things every citizen needs to know

  1. Jane, you are partly right when you say that the ballot is the most important tool a citizen has, but there are two tools more important, and that is our vote as a grand juror or trial juror.
    You correctly stated that it is only congress that has the power to create laws governing taxing and spending, but the Constitution gives no enforcement power to congress, and states specifically that someone charged with violating a law must be judged by a jury of his peers. That jury, if it feels that a law passed by congress to be unconstitutional or immoral, may find even one who is guilty of violating that law, innocent of the charges against him.
    An informed jury will know that they have the right and duty to judge not only the facts in a case, but the law involved as well. The two most important votes we have are those of jurors, either on the grand jury which calls for an indictment, or after an indictment, as a trial juror which has the aforementioned duty and right to judge both the law and the facts.

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  2. Personally, I liked the requirement in place at the time the Constitution was written. Only property owners could vote. This would equate to tax payers for the most part.

    An IQ test might be a good idea. A requirement of an IQ above room temperature would eleminate most democrats.

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  3. Excellent insight. For the reasons you list I also think that get out the vote campaigns are wrong. If I have to encourage and plead to get someone to vote, they should not be allowed to vote. A registration date a year in advance is a good idea to my mind. Only those interested in the welfare of the nation (as opposed to a charismatic candidate) will have registered and thus be able to vote. It should take some effort to register (in English only) so that only citizens concerned about the future of the nation will be making decisions. Further I advocate a modified form of the pole tax. If your net income tax burden for the prior year is zero or less, you should not be allowed to vote. If you don’t pay into the system, you should have no voice in how the money is spent.
    Robert Heinlein’s novel “Star Ship Troopers” makes a great distinction between ‘nationals’ and ‘citizens’. Even the native born had to prove they put the nation (planet in the story) first before they were allowed to be citizens.

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  4. EXCELLENT,Jane! Thank you for putting this together. My stumbling block at the polls is the vote for judges … unopposed and non partisan. How do we object and say “no” when no vote isn’t counted against the candidate?

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  5. Jane,

    You bring up good points about how voters should be informed before voting, but the things you suggest in your column today can never be implemented until Republicans and conservatives get back in power. Obama and the other liberals currently in power want many of the voters to be as dumb and uninformed as possible. Reportedly, within days after Obamacare was passed by Congress and then signed by Obama, there were people already going into hospitals and doctors offices demanding their “free” health care. These are the type of people that Obama, Reid, Pelosi, etc, want voting.

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  6. Clay, hilarious that you think DEMOCRATS want a dumb electorate. No one relied on a dumb electorate like Bush, Cheney and McCain. Of course they were dumb themselves but it’s hard to believe even someone as dumb as Bush didn’t know he was lying half the time. Sadly, the know-nothing Republican party has succeeded with its snow jobs in the past; thankfully those days are over.

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