Post contributed by David Newton, Faculty of AU Pharmacy (retired), OLLI at AU Volunteer, Environmentalist, Charter Member (48 years and counting) of Common Cause*, and Voter
This year you (citizens) have the opportunity and responsibility to participate in the hiring of many fellow citizens to do the public’s business, i.e., operate the several levels of our governments. If you are a registered voter in Auburn, you will do this when you vote in the elections held on August 28, for City of Auburn Municipal Officials, and November 6, for Federal, State, and County Officials.
To be successful, your democracy must have citizen participation. Merriam-Webster states: Democracy is “a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.” Therefore, YOU and all the rest of us need to get into the game. We should register to vote, study the issues, study the candidates, work in campaigns, and VOTE. If we don’t participate, our democracy may not thrive, and we will have only ourselves to blame.
For information on registering to vote and much more about voting in Alabama, read the “Alabama Voter Guide 2018” published by the office of the Alabama Secretary of State. Some candidates seek offices at the county level. Probate Judges supervise our county elections. They provide dates and candidates’ names for their county only. For information on the election in Lee County visit the webpage of the Lee County Probate Judge. Except for Auburn, few Alabama cities are electing city officials this year. For information on the election of the Auburn Mayor and the eight members of the city council, visit the city webpage. Recall that in the U.S., administration of elections is the responsibility of the state, county, and city. Therefore, if you live elsewhere, you must obtain information on voting from your home jurisdictions.
Regarding the issues, there are so many, e.g., animal rights, climate change, zoning, and dozens more, that you should probably concentrate on those of special interest to you. For example, you can concentrate on spreading the word on climate change and how we must cooperate at all levels to lessen its impact. Currently, market-based solutions (e.g., declining prices of solar and wind power) appear more likely to be persuasive. Of course, internet searches are readily available, but don’t pass up the resources of your library. Librarians excel at finding facts!
Studying the candidates, can be a challenge, partly because there are several offices to be filled, governor and more than a dozen others at the state level, and often several candidates for each office. Many candidates have websites where they post their accomplishments and plans. Organizations of interest to you will often report the records and positions of candidates. Possibly work cooperatively with friends and share results. Don’t forget the librarians as a resource. For some races, you can learn of financial backing of candidates by searching the databases of organizations such as OpenSecrets, VoteSmart, or the Alabama Secretary of State.
Working as a volunteer in the campaign of a candidate can be a valuable experience. Prior experience is usually not necessary, but there is much work to be done, and candidates will be glad to have you. It will give you a greater appreciation of the sacrifices and hard work of candidates, especially the successful ones.
Finally, you must vote. No exceptions! For too many elections, the turnout at the polls has been less than desired, sometimes much less. We really must change that. You can help. Just do it!
*“Common Cause is a nonpartisan grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity, and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process.” Source: CommonCause.org