First, I’ll start with a story. I began my career with the Arizona Department of Corrections (DOC) in 1977. Time after time, I heard comments from DOC personnel about how inmates had more rights than the law abiding citizens outside of the prison walls. Being a young officer, I wanted to know how these opinion and assumptions came to be, so I did my research. My research simply revealed that inmates spent time studying. They simply knew the law and knew their rights better than their law-abiding counterparts. My co-workers’ opinions and assumptions were incorrect and unfounded.
While on the campaign trail, and having talked to literally thousands of people, I have found that many of our voting, law-abiding neighbors seem to be unaware of their rights— a situation similar to that of my DOC co-workers years before. Again, I was surprised by many misunderstood issues related to our right to vote and, though it frustrates me, I now understand how politicians have “pulled the wool over our eyes” for so many years. I now understand how, regardless of the damage politicians may cause during the course of one term, they are able to persuade voters to mark the ballot in favor of the politicians. The politicians know more than the voters know.
In conversation with intelligent, concerned citizens, several misconceptions surfaced; two misconceptions still stand out in my mind. The first deals with the voters’ confusion regarding the purposes of primary and a general elections. Often, folks don’t feel their votes count in primary elections, therefore they don’t bother to vote. They allow other voters to decide whom will represent parties on the subsequent general election. Secondly, and more importantly, is the misconception that voters in the general election may only vote for the candidate who represents their party; that is, a Republican must vote for a Republican or a Democrat must vote for a Democrat or an Independent must vote for an Independent.
Let’s clear that up right now.
This is a democracy. We cannot be told who we have to vote for. We can vote for whomever we want, regardless of party affiliation. Do the research and vote for the most qualified person, regardless of party affiliation.
Let’s break the mold, voters. Let’s stop voting blindly. Let’s stop listening to politicians who lead us to believe that we must vote our party’s candidate. Let’s stop listening to politicians who have honed their skills in persuasion yet lack the skills necessary to do the job. Let’s educate ourselves in our constitutional rights and in political issues. Let’s do our research. Let’s know our rights. Let’s know the candidates. We, the voters, can vote for whomever we see qualified for the job. We can vote for the candidate whom, based on fact not assumption, will best serve us, the citizens.
Let’s take our country back, one county at a time.