Why voting beyond one election is everything

Erick Mendez
Contributing Writer


I don’t know how many of you will see this because numbers are always important. One number makes a difference. One more can translate into votes.

2018, like any other year, should be about making a difference within our communities starting with the August 28 Primary elections in Florida.

When people talk about voting they usually think of presidents and general elections. Voting is more than one election cycle. It’s about applying your ability to think critically when it comes to giving certain individuals the reins of power and responsibility.

We, as Americans, are subjugated by the laws and regulations of politicians who live and breathe as decisionmakers on our behalf.

Political participation isn’t about being registered to a party. Democrat, Republican, Independent, Libertarian, Green, none of that matters. Party lines are not college fraternities, or to be viewed as a cool kids’ club.

Voting is for everyone. The right to vote whether by birth or naturalization is a commitment that needs to be taken seriously.

Every two years for mid-term elections, and every four years for presidential elections.

Also, on the ballots are local judges, state supreme court members, and ‘Yes or No’ policy amendments to local laws. In hindsight, being lax and clueless in politics has hurt our country.

This path to political foresight begins with three questions: Why do people not vote? Why do they vote? And how can we learn about the candidates running?

The reasons people do not vote: Cutoff registration deadlines, lack of early release sample ballots, for profit paid ID requirements, voter disenfranchisement, media blackouts, manipulation by a two-party system, advantageous incumbents, lack of proper voter restoration to ex-felons, restricted political insight, superdelegates (google this), poisoned faith in the system and corroborated election fraud.

Are there noble Democrats out there in office? Should you trust all of them? My answer would be this: trust but verify. Hold members of the Republican Party and Independents just as accountable at the ballot.

The reasons people do vote: the issues of concern such as abortion rights, racial and income inequality, the inconvenience of closed primaries, net neutrality, homelessness, paid maternity leave, gun violence, school shootings, tuition-free college, Medicare For All, police use of force against minorities and whites, clean energy, money in politics, funding for public schools and teachers and lastly the agenda of the school board members in Broward County.

Even being a one-issue or two-issue voter means holding to a standard other than zero.

How to be informed of candidates: elections don’t just involve first-time voters. They also include newcomers to politics. Lori Alhadaff, and Ryan Petty are parents who lost their own children to the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

In lieu of criticism levied against the school board over the aftermath at Parkland, the parents are aiming for board seats.

Alhadaff is in the race for District 4, while Petty wants District 8.
Richard Mendelson is a candidate for District 6 and Natalia Garceau is running for District 1.

One click of a Google.com or Ballotpedia.org search should lead to important information about who they are and what they stand for concerning the safety of Broward County Public Schools.

I won’t call these endorsements entirely, but more of a starting point for your research at no cost.

Don’t ever be discouraged by new or “no-names” in the race. Alexandria-Ocasio-Cortez is proof that if a disadvantaged newcomer fights to win, they can win.

One additional set of tips: Candidates will hold community meetings and advertise them on Facebook, Twitter and their own professional websites. Go meet them, ask challenging questions, seek straight responses and collect impressions.

At the end of this, elections aren’t just those at the top federally. They are also about the bottom locally and higher at state levels.

While the deadline has passed to register for the primary elections on Aug. 28, you can still register by Oct. 9 to vote in the general election on Nov. 6.

There are also early voting dates.

To register to vote online or to update existing registration, visit RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov.