Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Monday was the first day of early voting in Texas. I had prepared. I had done hours of internet searches, tried to find out as much as I could about each of the candidates and where they stand on issues (although I'm not sure why I care what our tax assessor believes as long as he/she is not into the whole fraud, money laundering thing). 

The polls opened at 8:00 and I had two choices that were convenient to me: I could vote at the MSC (on campus) and ride to TAMU with Dave or vote at the county courthouse (downtown Bryan, 1 block from the library). I had a few returns I could make at the library anyway (like I EVER need to be pushed into going to the library) so downtown Bryan it was!

The closest bike racks are at the library (gee, isn't that a shame), so I passed the county courthouse and all the "Vote Here" signs (good, at least I'm in the right place on the right day), and headed for my favorite spot in town - book heaven. I pulled up to the bike racks just behind two men with some serious bike gear. They had older looking bikes and they were a bit scraggly looking themselves, but they each had an AWESOME trailer attached to the back. So I complimented them on their bike trailers and we got to talking. These guys ride all over the place (and I'm serious about this - they recently returned from a round trip to Minnesota) and talk to kids and families about biking. How GREAT is that! I wish I could have talked to they more, but we were each on a mission. I returned my library items and headed for the courthouse. 

The short one-block walk was easy, although I think I got some funny looks with the whole bike helmet on my head thing. I had to go through security at the courthouse, though, so the helmet had to come off. All the way towards the back were the voting machines. The nice ladies at the voting reception desk welcomed me and when I asked, they said that the day hadn't been too busy yet, but that crowds were expected by the end of the day. Although it was still early, they are expecting record turnouts for early voting, which lasts until next Friday, Oct 31. 

I moved on to the next room to get my voting book access number and placed my votes for US President, US Senator (TX), US Representative (TX), and Railroad Commissioner (TX). There were another 11 races, but because there was so little information about these people on-line, I didn't feel like I could vote in an educated manor. I felt bad about it, but I skipped voting in those races (more on this later). 

Out of the courthouse and back to the library, I checked out a couple movies I had reserved and one book (that's a SUPER light load for me). The lady at the check-out desk, who I talk to just about every time I'm there, looked at me strangely for a moment, then broke into a wide grin and asked me how I was. She said I looked familiar but it took her a minute to recognize me without my bike helmet (I forget that I obviously look different without it). We talked for a moment, wished each other a wonderful day, and I headed back to my bike. The bike trailers were gone, though I hope to run into them again soon, so I headed for home.

Sure, it's another 2 weeks until the official election day, but I feel really good about doing my part. I figure, if you don't vote, you have no right to complain about who is elected and I want to preserve my right to complain with the rest of America. 

If you're local and need some help, here are a few links you might find helpful:
  1. Voter's Guide - find out about some of our local (TX) politicians with the voter's guide. I found mine at the Bryan Library.
  2. Left of College Station - I recently found this blog, from a local progressive who has been posting news articles as well as info on some of the candidates in the upcoming election.
  3. Brazos Votes - This local website offers a sample ballot as well as dates and polling places for both election day and early voting. 
So here's my question for today... if you don't know, or can't find, information about candidates in a particular race, do you skip voting for that particular race or do you vote with the party you are most aligned to by default?

P.S. Go Vote!


Simply Authentic said...

funny thing, the ad that showed up at the bottom of your blog was an ad against voting for one of the representatives running here in oregon. funny but google's always sort of scary too. ;-)

anyway, i enjoyed your description of voting. in oregon, we have vote by mail ballots, so they come to our homes, along with the voters pamphlets that talk about the different issues, and then we can drop them off at certain locations or mail them in. i've never had to go to a center, so it was interesting to hear your experience. i enjoy the convenience of how we vote here, but i sometimes think about all the paper being wasted.

to answer your question, for the most part the voters pamphlet and information i get from the organizations i'm part of influence my voting on the different candidates. however if i can't find anything on a group of candidates for the same position, then yes, i leave it blank also.

good job on voting! i just filled mine out today too.

Michelle said...

We cannot vote early here in Minnesota, and I have to say that I prefer it that way. I don't know - I just love the idea of the whole country voiting together on one day. I guess that it is just good for people to vote...

To answer your question, I tend not to vote on races I am not up to date on. I don't associate myself with one party or another and I vote back and forth depending on who I think is more capable and has decent intentions (that part is sometimes hard to figure out).

If there are a lot of negative ads in a particular race, I vote Independent (especially if that person makes complete sense in the debates - which they usually do). My husband says I am wasting my vote - but I cannot support all the nastiness. It is my way of voting for decency.

Jena said...

What I usually do is watch for the day were the newspaper has all the candidates on the ballot and the basic ideas of what they are for and against. This usually helps me make a decision on most of the spots. I have to be careful this year because some of the clients at the vet clinic where I work will be running for office. It is tempting to vote for them in a you-scratch-my-back-i'll-scratch-yours kind of way but I don't have a clue where they stand on issues so I won't just vote for who I know!

If you don't get the paper ask someone who does to save that issue for you, if they do it where you live. Hope this helps! :)

Katy said...

Since we vote on our Judges here in Texas, I used to always skip those when I voted.

But now that I work for a law firm, and I actually know some of these people, I vote for them or against them accordingly.

Lisa Sharp said...

I'm working to find out everything I can about all the things I will be voting on. I will be leaving President blank sadly. I can't stand by either candidate and my wonderful state only has two on the ballot and no write in.

I know two of the people I'm voting for, funny enough they are democrats and I'm a registered Republican (please don't hate me I'm really a Libertarian but Oklahoma won't let you register third party).

If it's a local office and I can't find out much about the person I just vote out the person in office lol. Change is good. ;)

I NEVER vote straight party. I vote third party often and a mix of Republican and Democrat, maybe a bit more Republican but lately Republicans are getting farther away from Libertarian... Thanks Bush!

Heather @ SGF said...

simply authentic - I never knew that about Oregon. Interesting that it's all mail-in. At least there is a paper trail making it less likely for voter fraud. How early do you get your ballots?

michelle - I understand about all the "nastiness." It turns me off too. Since we don't have cable though, thankfully, we miss all that. I'm am not NOT missing ads right now! I like being able to vote early and the flexibility it provides. It's convenience for me, but I think for all those people who find it hard to get away from their jobs, being able to vote on a Saturday or Sunday must be a huge help. The big change I'd like to see in voting is for state primaries to be held all on the same day instead of this 6 month spread. By the time the primary came to Texas, the person I was interested in voting for had dropped out (but then TX had refused to put him on our ballot anyway). Politics!

jena - You know, I was looking for something in our paper about issues and didn't see anything. I found some website for people like those running for Chief Justice of the TX Supreme Court, but neither site said anything about how they felt on "issues." How are you supposed to make a decision when all they talk about is how great they are? It didn't help at all.

**For those who are local to the Brazos Valley - did you see anything in the Eagle about the individuals who are running on our ballot?

katy - judges were most of what I skipped because I have no idea and none of them have websites. It's a shame to have to work in law before you know what people are really like. But at least you can pass the word around to people you know!

lisa - sometimes it really does feel like your choice is the lesser of two evils, huh?

Lisa Sharp said...

No joke, at least I have two people I'm excited to vote for. Funny enough they are the democrats I'm voting for. There is a third party candidate running for one office but can't find anything about him and since you can't register third party in Oklahoma no idea what third party he is. grrr!!! Politics in Oklahoma suck.

Theresa said...

We just had an election here in Canada, and our same Conservative guy got in again, with a minority (he is the leader of the party with the most seats, but his party doesn't have the majority of the 308 seats - it happens that way up here sometimes when there are more than two parties, which there always are).

If I don't know who to vote for, I have left that part of the ballot blank before, but lately I've been just looking for more information on the people first, in the newspaper or their pamphlets or whatever. We don't vote on as many public officials as US folks do though, so most of the time when we vote, all of the candidates' positions are pretty well known ahead of time.

Good luck with your election. I sure hope Mr. Obama wins.

Heather @ SGF said...

Lisa - it's good that you are open to voting what you think is right and not voting for a particular party. I think that's a trap many people fall into - an easy way out, so to speak, rather than making the time to truly research. I really tried to find out as much as I could, but sometimes, it's tough.

Theresa - Thanks for the well wishes! Truly, I wish it was all over already - there's nothing else on the news these days it seems. Just two more weeks....

liberaltexan said...

Thank you for the link...
Interesting blog by the way.

ttammylynn said...

I admit that this is a difficult topic to discuss. I try to vote with my gut and my heart. Information is important and not always easy to come by. I sincerely hope that we all vote for something better than we have now...but I am becoming hopeless about it. I believe in patriotism, rights of people, and values. I feel that Obama is probably going to break small business and since that is me, I cannot support him. He doesn't support gun ownership and I feel like we should be able to hunt and even carry a gun to protect ourselves since I have had a friend in business robbed before...carrying a deposit and being killed for it, certainly having a gun might not have helped, but it may have, the man is dead, irregardless. I also don't support him because he allowed racial/sexist remarks by his campaign manager regarding Hillary Clinton's defeat in one state being greater than OJ's beating of Nicole Brown-Simpson, kindda tasteless.
I wasn't loving McCain, but when I heard that Illinois had testimony of fired hospital workers that had had to perform early deliveries on babies and allow them to die in a washroom (a form of "abortion")and Obama didn't do anything to stop it or to support the fired workers in any way. The hospitals instead created a comfort room for these dying infants that were viable with life saving techniques but would die on their own, allowing the "parents" to hold their gasping for breath infants, baby pictures, bracelets, dead baby books, sweet, or...morbid.
And then, come to find that Obama has met his own brother just twice, his brother lives on just a few dollars a year in Africa. I think Obama needs to spread his own wealth to his own family and stop promising to take what people work for to redistribute. I would rather earn my keep than ever get a hand-out. I think crippled people, old people and children need help, but people who can earn a living should. The sacrifices that I make everyday to earn equity in my business and money to pay my debts shouldn't be handed to someone who could have worked for it. We have an employee and we pay him well for what he does, I hope we can continue to afford him. Well, I guess you could say I'll vote against Obama...I just hope that if he does win that he does love America(even though he obviously doesn't understand or abide by flag ettiquette, not placing his hand over his heart or singing the Star Spangled Banner), I know I still do, but if I go broke because my investments go to pot because of the legislation Clinton signed to allow banks to sell bad mortgages to the stock market in bundles like it was good mortgages to set the stock market on its edge and cause Bush, McCain and others to insist on the unpopular bailout...might explain the housing boom under Clinton, huh. Well, I don't know, but if the US gets too bad, I guess I'll look at where else we can go, lol...pitiful but according to an old Cuban who voted for a young Castro who promised change, you shouldn't vote for change without knowing what kind of change it is that you are voting for...he now lives in the US.

Heather @ SGF said...

liberaltexan - thanks! It's always encouraging to find new progressives in the area. Sometimes it seems we're few of far between.

ttammylynn - It is a hard choice. There's been all sorts of rumors going around for both candidates. Much of the rumors (against Obama anyway) have been shown to be false. I don't agree with everything Obama says, but I think he's a step in the right direction. I think McCain is nothing more than 4 more years of Bush and rather than speak on issues, he's spent most of the campaign spreading fear so that a rediculous percentage of the population believe Obama is a terrorist, a muslim, not american, etc. That's politics taken way too far and I just can't support the perpetuation of irrational fear. That's nothing more than what the current administration is doing (if we can distract the population with their fears, we can get away with practically anything). But we all have to vote for who we think is the best (or not the worst). NOT voting is the only true crime.

Oh, as far as hurting small business owners. If you don't take home more than $250,000 in income, it won't hurt you at all (at least that's what I understand).

ttammylynn said...

No, it really isn't clear what Obama means, and it is subject to change. 250,000.00 a year in sales, profits before expenses, profits after expenses, or what does he mean when he draws up this 250,000.00 number? And it was reported on the news this morning that he intends to cut SSI benefits to pay for the hand-outs(I call them hand-outs because they are benefits to people who may or may not pay taxes in the first place)...surely money must come from somewhere. That's okay...I know I will never receive a thing for paying into SSI(twice as much as a normal employee does because I am self-employed), but I would like to think that my grandmother could continue to get the little checks that help keep her from needing to ask family to help her out financially every month...yikes.
But you must understand, I do not base my opinions about anyone on the rumours. Although I have heard that Obama has two birth certificates, one Kenyan, one Hawaiian, I think it is more the substance of the man who almost wants to elevate himself to status of God. I don't want a god, I want a president who won't hopefully screw things up too badly. I think McCain isn't Bush. He voted against Bush almost as much as with Bush on policies. I don't think he was always right, I don't even think I am always right, but I am scared of Obama.
As far as Acorn and registering numerous dead, felon, etc. to vote after Obama said he was a community organizer of that group well, I just find that to be kindda unremarkable as a reference.
As far as getting a sweetheart deal on his house from a slum-lord who had gotten money from Illinois courtesy of Obama and others while his tenants had rats, bugs and wind blowing through their shack-homes, well, that kindda makes me sick, but I mean at least he voted on something, right? He had more no- votes than anyone else in his 300-odd days as senator.

Heather @ SGF said...

ttammylynn - I can certainly understand. Neither side is perfect and we have to choose who to believe, make the best choice we can, and then hope they do the right thing. Worst case scenario: we find a deserted island and start all over. Hmm. I might just have something there :)

ttammylynn said...

Yes, you do...like Lost, but with fewer people dying maybe... I've had a trying day, forgive me for being less than tactful on this subject. Let's change the subject...the apples are ready to order next week...yea!!! I'm trying to order some cheese from Heini's(they serviced Morningside Organics before the deliveries stopped), it is Amish cheese, basically...the shipping came down because the weather is more temperate, so I placed an order...do you want to try a little raw cheddar maybe? I still love you, even if we vote differently, I could slice a pound or so for you to try(I buy the six pound bricks). I respect that you care enough to research and vote as best you can. And, to be honest with you, I admit fully that I am not always right, I even voted for Bush(although I really liked some of the third party candidates better, lol). Alas, but he is a distant cousin of my husband anyhow...and I swear I even looked into Kinky Freidman when he ran for governor.

ttammylynn said...

And, I was talking to my hubby, perhaps Texas could just succeed from the union if things get too bad. Texas is as big as many of the countries in Europe...I mean, why not? We got everything, cows, oil, great veggies at the Farmer's Market. We ain't California, but I think we could make a helluva country...

ttammylynn said...

Oh, and I am counting on you. Friday Vicky wants me to pick her backyard garden(this is a task she cannot entrust to her sons because well, teenagers are teenagers. She asked me to pick everything that needed picked and take it. That means I could wind up with too much stuff. If I should have too much, I will try to bring it to Market to give to you, if that is okay...let me know.

Heather @ SGF said...

ttammylynn - I thought Kinky was kinda cool myself. Dave and I went to a doctor's appointment and the doc told us the music we were listening to in his office was Kinky singing :) He was NOT the typical politician which was what I liked!

The apples and cheese sound SOOOO good. You're going to have to link me up with all these suppliers. It sounds wonderful! A little cheese would be great but I don't need a whole pound. Just a little would be wonderful! And if you end up with too many apples I'd be happy to buy some from you. I'll bet they are fabulous!

I'd be happy to hold on to whatever you need me to hold on to. You can take it to the market, or I can email you directions to my house if that is easier. I can always get milk for you and Vicky anytime you can't make the drop. Just let me know. I'd be happy to help out anytime and our fridge is rarely full. I have space to share :)

And as for not agreeing on everything... if we didn't have differences, life would be way too boring :) Hugs!