By Guest Contributor, Scott Uecker
Possibly the most important issue of our time is that of the need for everyone to vote. Voting is what makes a democracy work. By not voting, you take the power away from yourself, and give it to someone who does vote. They may have a different viewpoint or agenda and you may end up on the losing end. People with disabilities have made great strides over the years, and it would be a shame to allow these strides to disappear or worse yet, lose their meaning all together.
Let us not take the path of indifference, but one of enlightenment. It is important to understand the issues of the parties and the positions of the candidates. Get to know the candidates, what their personalities are like, how they handle various situations, and how they will most likely vote on crucial matters. Making an informed choice is extremely important. Your vote may not be the most popular with everyone, but it is extremely valuable. And remember, you don’t need to tell anyone how you voted. That’s between you and the election booth.
In order to make an informed and not just popular decision, find the most reliable sources and use them to cast an educated ballot. Keep in mind however that not all sources are created equal; some will be grossly biased, while others will be more neutral. The Internet is full of information and it is a good place to start (with a skeptical eye that is). Or, read the newspaper, watch the news, or tune in to the debates. Take a few minutes to complete an online quiz, such as I Side With. Try not to put too much stock in political ads, as they tend to be biased and out of context.
Making an informed choice is the objective of voting. Make a list of concerns you have, or issues that are important to you. After making the list, find out how the candidates feel about these issues. Know not only how the candidates voted on past issues, but their views on current and possible future issues.
Of course, it’s possible that no candidate will fit perfectly with your views. In this case, prioritize your list of issues you have that are important to you and find the best fit. Vote your conscience when possible.
Remember, every vote counts and voter turnout can turn an election. Vote early if you need to avoid long lines at the polling center (An absentee ballot is often available to voters with disabilities.). If the opposition has a greater turnout at the polls, it is surely going to turn the election against you. If you want to ensure a victory for your candidate, encourage your peers to vote. It’s likely that people in the same circumstances as yourself, will vote similarly. The more you encourage others in your situation to vote the more likely you are to have a positive impact on the election outcome.
By definition, a Democracy is “a government by the people.” As such, every eligible American citizen has the right and obligation to vote, including citizens with disabilities. But the key is to understand what our country and/or your local government is experiencing and how your vote will make a difference.
The truth is, it’s not difficult to vote, so why not? Circumstances can potentially change in someone else’s favor, not yours, if you don’t exercise your right to vote in an informed manner. Even if you don’t personally care about the outcome of the election (though you should), vote your conscience. Choose the candidate that will best lead our country, as a whole, into the future. In the end, there is no reason not to vote and every reason to vote.
Need a little guidance on the voting and election process? Visit our 2012 Presidential Election Page.