Election Day is around the corner, and I hope you’ll go out to your polling station and exercise your right to vote. I voted… but I admit, a bit grumpily. Maybe it is that as I get older, I’m getting more skeptical about what our politicians can accomplish for us, the ordinary, hard-working people. Or just like many others, I’m feeling disappointed that instead of electing the best qualified, deserving candidate for the job, we are instead, trying to figure out who’s the lesser of two evils. Nevertheless, I voted. Thank goodness, I requested a mail-in ballot so the other day, I dropped in my favorite chair at home; pen and ballot in one hand, cup of hot tea on the other one and worked my way through the candidates for presidential, congressional, legislative and City and County races. Those were no trouble. But OMG when I got to the twenty Amendments to the City and County charter, I was glad for the privacy of my own walls. Otherwise, a “What the heck are these?!” would have resonated for all to hear. Really, who drafted and worded all these amendments and whose great idea was it to put sub-issues/questions under one main issue and then provide only one yes and only one no box for all of them. What if I wanted to vote yes on the main issue, no on the first sub-issue, and yes on the second sub-issue and so on? And the language they used!
Should the requirement be repealed that no more than five of the City Council Reapportionment Commission’s nine members be from the same political party?
“You gotta do mental acrobatics to figure out what they mean,” somebody said to me.
“Did you see those amendments?” one of my bosses asked as soon as he came back from casting his ballot. “They must’ve been written by lawyers. It took me twenty minutes to do them.”
I wasn’t sure if he was bragging or complaining. After all, he is a lawyer.
What are we, mere mortals, plain-English-understanding people are to do? We feel it’s such an inconvenience to be stuck in a voting booth, trying to decipher the intention of our governing officials while at the same time having the feeling rise in the back of our minds that we might be tricked into voting for something we might regret later.
Then my boss went down the hall and I could hear him talking with his colleagues.
“Well, if you don’t understand them, then just vote no,” one of them said.
And that was from one lawyer to another lawyer.
If there was such a thing as returning the City Amendments ballot with a “Please rewrite” scrawled on top of it, I would’ve done it. And I’m sure I would not be alone. But since that was not an option, I went through all 20 questions + sub-questions, reading them once, twice and even three times. I might have cursed under my breath a few times, questioned why HART would be exempted for review while all the other boards have to undergo one, but I finished them all. In the end, we all just have to do to the best of our understanding. And no shame if we don’t quite understand. If a question didn’t make sense to me, I just voted no. As I see it, they don’t deserve our permission if they cannot explain themselves clearly. So I had a say. You have a say. Go vote.