Amy Roberts: Vote!
Around this time of year my dad and I have an annual conversation about voting. It’s as predictable as turkey on Thanksgiving. My dad calls me towards the end of October and asks if I know who I’m voting for in the upcoming election. By that time, I’ve usually made up my mind and tell him about our local races. He tells me about the political scene in Omaha, where he votes. And always, without fail, by the end of our talk, my dad will be riled up and say to me: "We need term limits!" And without fail I always respond, "Dad, we have term limits. They’re called elections."
Long ago my dad impressed upon my sisters and me the importance of voting. He took us to the voting booth with him when we were kids and we’d fight over who got to wear the "I voted " sticker he was given by the poll worker. Though I grew up to have vastly different beliefs than he does, voting is a right I have always considered a duty.
My dad, a child of the sixties, would tell us stories about how people who, in his lifetime, had died for the right to vote. People who were murdered for registering black voters, just a decade or so before I was born.
In my lifetime, I’ve watched enough CNN to see the stories about people in developing democracies who walk for three days, with five small children in tow, in the middle of a desert with no water, just to stand in line for another three days to exercise their right to vote. And it sickens me to know how many Americans take it for granted.
When I encourage people to vote, I often hear excuses like, "I’m not political" or "My vote doesn’t really matter."
And I always respond by telling them, "Bad politicians are elected by good people who don’t vote."
Congress has an approval rating of less than 10 percent. Last year, Public Policy Polling found that head lice, cockroaches, root canals and traffic jams were all actually more popular than the legislative body. Congress did manage to beat out the Kardashians in terms of popularity, but just barely.
Yet in 2012, the last time we went to the polls with Congress on the ballot, 90 percent of them were reelected. People approve of lice more than Congress, but we continue to send them back to D.C. That’s a real head-scratcher.
I know when the office of president is not on the ballot, it’s less motivating to go to the polls. Really, how many people get excited about voting for the county auditor?
But here’s the thing, if you care about your real estate taxes and whether or not there’s enough money in the county’s budget for snow removal on your street this winter — then this position does matter to you and you need to vote.
The voting booth is the only place where your opinion matters exactly as much as the president’s, a Fortune 500 company’s CEO and your neighbor’s. It’s the only place where we all truly have equal say.
In non-presidential election years, voter turnout in America hovers around the 40 percent mark. That’s pathetic. Why on earth are we okay with this?
There are a lot of races on the ballot this November. From Congress, to our Sheriff, county council and yes, county auditor. And they all matter. Just like your vote.
Voting is a right, a privilege and a duty. And democracy requires participation.
Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley.
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“Our community is looking for strong, collaborative leaders who exhibit a commitment to serve,” writes Jeremy Rubell, a Park City Council candidate.