There is this saying, that sometimes good enough is good enough. When it comes to politics, I’m a completely stymied. I’m not talking about national politics or what the bonehead move of the day is coming out of Washington. This isn’t that kind of article. Disrespectful comments will be removed.
The Pennsylvania primary is coming up tomorrow, and I am uninformed voter.
(To my readers from other states and countries, there still might be information in here for you!)
Look, I have a post-graduate degree, spend hours each day educating myself on various topics and listening to the news about the world and my local area, but I still don’t get it. Unfortunately, our two party system is broken today, and I’m not sure that it ever worked all that well in US history, so calling myself one thing or another doesn’t give me an easy pass at the polls. Voting the party ticket isn’t the answer for me. Disavowing both major parties for something else not only increases the confusion, but unfortunately almost certainly ensures that my vote would just be thrown away. Unfortunate, but true.
But here’s the thing…I really, really care about local politics. I want my vote to count. I value the work that the suffragettes from a hundred years ago did to preserve my rights and my daughter’s rights. I know that unfortunate and far-ranging changes can occur when thoughtful people sit out the elections. I go to city council meetings sometimes. I attend school board meetings sometimes. I read the political propaganda mailed to my home. I just can’t keep up.
And in PA this year, it’s gotten even more confusing as political lines are being redrawn in a landmark (federal?) case as a result of widespread political gerrymandering. (That’s one version of political cheating, when political forces redraw voter maps to ensure that the party stays in power over time.) I have no idea what congressional districts my city, county, and state belongs to. And does that apply to the PA House of Representatives? The PA Senate? The US House of Representatives? The US Sentate? Geesh!
But wait…does all of that even apply to me? The situation for most voters is just bananas, because we hear ads and media coverage for many, many races that don’t even apply to where we live!!! Yay for the free press. Boo for not always knowing whether coverage of a candidate is something that applies to me.
So, even though I’m a professional organizer in my full-time job and I like to be in the know, this is one area that is out of my control.
I imagine that some of my readers may feel the same way. I know many people stay home from elections, especially non-presidential primary elections like the one taking place in PA tomorrow, because we don’t really know what we’d be voting for anyway.
So I’ve gathered a few resources here together. My hope is that you’ll take 10 minutes to figure out where your polling place is, figure out what or who is going to be on your ballot, and commit to getting to your polling place tomorrow. Maybe you cast a vote for a few races. Maybe you vote in all the races. But you get to vote, so do it. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.
Well, that assumes that you are already registered to vote. If you’ve skipped that step, register to vote here.
Set the timer for 10 or 15 minutes, and see what you can learn about your elections:
Find your polling place in PA: https://www.pavoterservices.pa.gov/pages/pollingplaceinfo.aspx
Find out what PA congressional district you are in: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative
Resources from the PA League of Women Voters: https://www.palwv.org/ where you’ll find the https://www.palwv.org/2018-primary-election-voters-guide/
I really like this site www.vote411.org/enter-your-address , where you can just enter your address, and it pops up with information on the races that you’ll be voting on, in an easy to read format like this:
Knowing that I only have 5 races to focus on makes it much easier for me to manage.
What else have you found helpful, that helps you make sense of your local elections, without requiring an advanced poly sci degree?