Your vote makes a difference

All men may have been created equal, but not all exercise the right to vote

Posted: Sunday, November 03, 2002

Your vote does not count. Your opinion doesn't matter.

So on Tuesday, continue on about your normal routine. Go ahead and spend the rest of that Alaska Permanent Fund dividend check you just got. Drive to work, or wherever, along state-maintained roads, without having to worry about paying one red cent for any of it. And by all means, don't bother voting.

Who really cares whether the state Legisla-ture convenes in Juneau or the Matanuska-Susitna Valley or on the moon for that matter? Why should that be a concern when there are hills and valleys that will soon be covered with white fluffy powder to challenge your newly purchased supercharged snowmachine or brand new skis?

What difference does it make what shape the schools are in or how many kids are in each class? As long as they keep the kids occupied

and out of trouble. And aren't the teachers paid to deal with that, anyway?

Why does there need to be any more construction done, especially on the Sterling Highway bridge over the Kenai River? That'll

cause so much more traffic than there already is, and you'll end up having to go all the way to Kenai from Funny River Road just to

get a burger and fries.

Does it really matter who is elected governor -- as long as there are no new taxes and nobody touches your dividend check? Isn't that what all of the candidates are promising? If they're all true to their word, what difference does it make who gets elected? Right?

Wrong.

Might this be the train of thought that dominates Tuesday's election? Hopefully not. Such thinking could lead to people staying at home

instead of voting. That's what about 70 percent of the Kenai Peninsula Borough's voting population did (or didn't do) in last month's municipal election.

And that's what an average 70 percent of the peninsula did in the last general election in 2000. And that was an almost 10 percent increase over 1998. Why should it be any different on Tuesday? What is it that makes a person not want to contribute to the democratic process? Apathy? Complacency? One can only speculate.

But simply voting isn't the key. It's about comprehending all of the issues, seeing through all of the propaganda that gets shoved down your throats leading up to Election Day and determining which laws or lawmakers will work best for you and your individual situation.

I realize I'm probably preaching to the choir, but the fact that there's such a notable count of nonvoters means that not everyone is speaking up. Overstanding (as opposed to understanding, which, when you think of standing under something, describes a

position of minimal authority) the campaign game may not call for a great deal of work, but some is required to truly get what you want

from it.

Evidently, according to state election records, only 10,905 of the 36,382 registered peninsula voters in the 2000 general election felt motivated to make their mark on the political system.

And who's to say every one of those voters made educated decisions?

So why am I so passionate about voting? It's something many take for granted now, but it wasn't a privilege allowed my ancestors

until the first quarter of the 20th Century. And many had to die in order for me to voice my opinion freely, long after the initial drafting of the U.S. Constitution which claimed that "all men were created equal." Suffrage has not always been guaranteed for women and Native Americans, either.

Convicted felons have the privilege taken from them. And events in Florida in the 2000 presidential election displayed just how tenuous the privilege of voting is even today.

So, in my eyes, the opportunity to name somebody to speak for me on lawmaking decisions, or to actually choose which way laws

crafted by these elected officials will go, is power. Regardless of how minimal it may seem.

Granted, there's no guarantee that everyone voted into office will always represent the values of those who chose her or him. They may

not ever do anything more than serve themselves. But I'd rather have someone in the office screwing up than deal with the luck of the draw and take what's handed to me.

But if none of the previous commentary convinces you to go to the polls and make a mark, it's OK. Continue doing what you've been doing. There's nothing really pressing that will be on the ballot, anyway.

But when things in Alaska don't go the way you want them to, remember the decision you made and keep you mouth shut.You asked

for it.

Marcus K. Garner is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion.



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