It's voting season. This has been such an interesting year with the upcoming elections. Two candidates that are so very different, our nation in a financial crisis, and serious choices to be made. Living in Oregon, we have the ability to vote early. We are a state that operates with all mail-in voting - no long lines or going "to the polls". We received our ballots through the mail a couple of weeks ago. I decided that tonight was the night to do my civic duty.
I came home from work, got something to drink and pulled out my voters pamphlet. Some choices were easy - I had made my decision months ago. Others were more complicated.
Later my son came home. He just turned 20. He wasn't able to vote in the last presidential elections. We've had alot of conversations about the duty to vote. It's easy to take the attitude that "my vote doesn't count for much". After all, when you read through the manuals, alot of the language is hard to understand. But if you don't want to let your voice be heard, then you don't have the right to complain.
As we were reviewing the issues, Collin and I had some wonderful conversation. It really is frustrating - so many of the issues were not easy choices. Here in Oregon, we had three issues that, if passed, would require increases to our Property taxes. Now recognize, Oregon is a no sales-tax state. So we pay extra property taxes. The first issue is to pass a bond to fund much needed upgrades at the Oregon Zoo. The second issue is to pay for funding that would support foster child programs, after school programs, and a variety of state funded children's programs. The third is for a bond for our local school district to fund overdue repairs, improvements, and construction of a new middle school (there are over 1,000 7th and 8th graders in one school). My budget can only support so many increases to our property taxes - but all three issues are important. What would you choose?
Collin found himself in a unique position - he agreed that all 3 issues were important. He could vote for all three; afterall, he doesn't pay property taxes and probably won't for a very long time. So it doesn't really affect him, right? We found ourselves having a very interesting conversation. I made my choice, explained to him the implications of each option and he made his choice.
Other issues were equally difficult - many of them appeared smart on the surface, but through further reading the reality of what these choices would cost made them look a little less attractive. Many choices would reduce funding to schools. How can we do that? Our schools in Oregon are already sinking. How can we take more money away from them? Choices - spend billions of dollars to build more prisons and keep that money in the schools. These are not easy choices. Many things seem like the lesser of two evils.
But the reality is this -I get to have a voice. I get to vote. People fought for that right and I want to honor the sacrifice that they made on our behalf. The system isn't perfect, but I am greatful to live in this country. I am greatful that I have choices and can walk down the street and pursue my passions and go to a job. There are women throughout the world who will never be able to do those things. Let your voice be heard this year. Get out there and vote!