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My parents were big on priorities. Some things you just did because they needed doing, and any other concerns could wait their turn. Most of those priorities concerned ranch responsibilities, but they were active in community affairs too, and kept themselves informed of national issues. One of their priorities was voting, and if they knew someone who didn’t bother to exercise that right, they’d let it be known that the person was shirking his or her civic duty. However, they didn’t know many shirkers—all the adults I grew up around wouldn’t have dreamed of not going to the polls.

Dad was registered as a Democrat and Mom as a Republican. They sometimes joked about canceling one another’s vote, but they went and did it anyhow. Actually, I think both of them mostly voted their conscience and paid less mind to party affiliation, but I wouldn’t know for sure, because I was taught that you don’t ask certain questions, like a person’s age, how many cattle or acres they have, and how they voted. What I do know for sure is that they did their homework before putting their pencil to a ballot. This doesn’t mean that there weren’t lively political discussions in our home, but neither of them attempted to sway the other’s vote.

The importance of research in the matter of voting can’t be understated. Campaign ads, public opinion, and news programs do contribute to our decisions but they aren’t always truthful, and the whole picture of a person’s qualifications needs to be looked at. If one is too lazy to do their own homework, perhaps they should refrain from marking a ballot.

A friend recently told me what candidate he planned to vote for, citing where the person stood on a particular issue. He said he really didn’t know much about the other candidate. I happen to know the other candidate personally, and shared what I knew about where the person stood on various issues. My friend guessed he should do some research. A few days later, he called me to say he was so impressed that he now had my candidate’s sign in his yard, and had advised some friends to look a little deeper before deciding. Some of them tried to engage in arguments but my buddy wouldn’t go there. “Everyone needs to do their homework and decide for themselves,” is pretty much what he said.

Imagine a world where that was the rule. No blaming, no character assassination, rallies or demonstrations. Just town halls, interviews, and respectful questions. Wouldn’t that make more sense? Another thing we should ask of the candidate who boasts of having raised the most money. If they are willing to ask for donations and spend so much of the public’s money to get elected, how responsible will they be with our dollars once in office?

Get out and vote next week, but do your best research first. Somebody might like it.

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