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It is a powerful tool

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I had an interesting conversation recently with a citizen who was complaining about the current Tucson City Council, her representative in Congressional District 2 and the state’s current race for governor. She wasn’t happy with anyone, and didn’t appear optimistic with current choices for candidates.

As we continued talking, it was apparent she had a good understanding of each of the candidate’s positions, she understood issues facing our state. She seemed like the kind of voter we want – one who is informed and thinks beyond whether there is an R or a D with a candidate’s name.

However, the kicker in the conversation came when I brought up the fact that I had already filled out my early ballot for the primary. I said the ballot was short and really didn’t take long to fill out. That’s when she stated matter-of-factly that she would not be voting. I thought at first that just meant in the primary. After all, there are some who don’t believe the primary race is half as important as the general election in November.

I asked about her plans in the general election – she said she wouldn’t be voting in that election either. I  have to admit, I was taken aback a bit. How can you be so knowledgeable about the candidates and issues, sound as if you truly care what is happening with our state and our nation- but then say you are not going to vote?

I asked why in the world she was going to skip voting. Her first response was her vote didn’t really matter and she’s just too busy to get to the polls on election day. I then stressed how easy voting can be today. Order a mail-in ballot, which means filling it out on your own time at night or on weekends and mail it back to the recorder’s office. She said she didn’t see the point again.

The sad thing about this conversation and others I have had point to a bigger problem we are having as a society. She, like so many, said at one point elections are bought and paid for, which means the mark she puts on a ballot has less of an impact as it used to.

Sadly, she has a point. While I would never not vote in an election, I can see where she’s coming from in feeling like regular, everyday citizens have less say and less power than ever before.

Look at the governor’s race – Christine Jones seemed to build name recognition because of the amount of money she has. Does that make her qualified for running our state? I would say no, but those who vote on name recognition may think those awkward commercials she can afford to air give her the edge.

Then, you have outside money. PACS have turned elections upside down, and keeping up with what it all means is exhausting.

However, at the end of the day, I just want to say to all voters out there – our votes may be mattering less to these candidates because voter turnout is decreasing more and more after each election. The higher the voter turnout, the more our vote is going to matter.

If you can’t make the election polls on the day of the election, take the time to get online and order a mail-in ballot. Even if my candidates lose – I know I tried and I know my vote matters. I don’t care what anyone tells me – I will never stop taking advantage of that one right I see as a powerful tool – voting.

 

—Thelma Grimes

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