Exercise your right to vote in this general election
For the Courier-Times
If you are a registered voter, you've likely received your general election ballot in the mail by now. In nearly all of Washington, voters now get their ballots in the mail about two-and-a-half weeks before Election Day. Not only is mail-in voting convenient, but it gives voters the time and opportunity to study the ballot, research issues and candidates, and make informed decisions. Unfortunately, too many people set their ballots aside, along with other mail, and forget about them.
Secretary of State Sam Reed predicts voter turnout will be only 51 percent across Washington. He noted, “It's sad to think of nearly half the electorate sitting this one out, particularly when so much is at stake.”
Four years ago, during the first free elections in Iraq in 50 years, people dodged bullets to cast their ballots. Along a Baghdad street, a man thrust forward his ink-stained finger. “Whatever they would do, I would still vote,” he said.
Although this year's election may not rise to the magnitude of the first free election of a nation, there are still very important issues and races to be decided. Two statewide issues are on this year's ballot: Initiative 1033 proposes capping annual growth in city and county general funds, with excess revenue dedicated to property tax relief; Referendum 71 asks voters to approve or reject domestic partnership legislation that passed the Legislature last spring.
In addition, many local races are on the ballot, including council positions for the city of Sedro-Woolley and local school district director positions.
Local governments are the level of government closest to our daily lives, affecting everything from potholes to budget priorities, and the future of our schools. Your vote holds leaders accountable for the decisions they make. It affirms our ability as citizens to elect our government and take part in one of the greatest rights a free nation can have — the right to vote.
When you set down this newspaper, I encourage you to pick up your ballot and voter's pamphlet. Please read the material to learn more about the issues and the candidates. If you don't have a voter's pamphlet, contact the Skagit County Auditor at (360) 336-9305 or access it online at: http://wei.secstate.wa.gov/skagit/Pages/OnlineVotersGuide_20091103.aspx. And then be sure to vote and mail in your ballot to be postmarked by Nov. 3. It may be one of the most important things you do this year!
As Daniel Webster said, “Impress upon children the truth that the exercise of the elective franchise is a social duty of as solemn a nature as man can be called to perform; that a man may not innocently trifle with his vote; that every elector is a trustee as well for others as himself, and that every measure he supports has an important bearing on the interests of others as well as on his own.”
Please, exercise your right to vote!
EDITOR'S NOTE: State Rep. Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, represents the 39th Legislative District, and also serves as chairman of the Washington House Republican Caucus. He can be contacted at (360) 786-7967 or e-mail him and sign up for his e-newsletter at: houserepublicans.wa.gov/Kristiansen.