Election Day (November 4, 2008) is just a week away. That means that today is probably a good day to focus on the election and how to get informed about the issues and the candidates. We also invite you to post your comments and thoughts about the candidates and issues below. One caveat: please do not post attacks or bile – we all know that Barack Obama is BFFs with terrorists and John McCain only has about 8 seconds to live. What we’d like to hear is why you are voting FOR a candidate or measure or what issues you’re most concerned with.
The Freep notes that Michigan is one of just 19 states that doesn’t allow early voting. Exceptions are only made for those over 60 or who will be absent. They say (and we agree) that “The opportunity to vote early is a blessing for people who don’t always know how their schedule will end up on any given day. Among the 31 states that now allow early voting, some even make it particularly easy by setting up poll locations in storefronts and other convenient spots.”
Since you can’t vote early (and you shouldn’t vote often a la Chicago) we hope you can vote informed. Far and away the best site for Michigan voting is publius.org. Just go there, enter your name as it appears on your voter registration and you can see your actual ballot! Ballots have links to the candidate’s web site and information about the ballot measures. You can even see the location of your polling place and even what machine you’ll be voting on and how it works (mine is a Diebold Accu Vote … darnitall). If you don’t show up, they give you links to contact your local clerk – a good thing to check sooner rather than later! They also have a place where you can send eLection eCards to your friends and family to encourage them to vote.
A news item that we somehow missed was Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land’s announcement last week that 7.47 million Michigan residents have registered to vote – a record voter registration of nearly 98 percent of the voting age population! They remind you that voter ID is required – all the details at michigan.gov/vote where you can get all kinds of information including a list of all 688 candidates running for state office.
In addition to candidates, Michigan voters have two statewide proposals to consider. Ballotpedia’s 2008 Michigan Ballot Measures page explains that Proposal 1: The Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care Initiative would allow the medical use of marijuana for seriously ill patients. Proposal 2: The Stem Cell Initiative (or CureMichigan) would allow the donation of embryos produced in fertility clinics that would otherwise be discarded and would allow researchers to create embryonic stem cell cultures to study disease. It would also allow government funding of stem-cell research and human cloning would continue to be illegal. Both pages list arguments and organizations pro and con and it’s really a great resource.
Michigan Radio’s Jack Lessenberry has interviewed people for and against the measures and it’d be worth your time to listen to the views of Senator Tom George (against Prop 1), Diane Byrum of the Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care (for Prop 1), David Doyle of Michigan Citizens Against Unrestricted Science and Experimentation and Dr. Sean Morrison of the University of Michigan Center for Stem Cell Biology (for Prop 2). You can also read what Jack thinks about Proposal 1 and Proposal 2.
OK, so 98% of you are registered to vote – how many will make it to the polls? The Detroit News notes that while every four years we face ‘the most important election ever’, that may actually be the case this year.
“We’ve got two wars, and the economy is dying,” said William Rustem, president of Lansing’s Public Sector Consultants and a former aide to Republican Gov. William Milliken. “The enormity of the issues is something we haven’t faced.”
Even when Ronald Reagan was staring down the Russians at the end of the Cold War, Rustem says, no one was watching the daily numbers on Wall Street and talking about the Great Depression, or debating the need to retool the entire energy sector to avoid climatic disaster.
Finally, I thought this article on How to Pick a President was one of the best things I’ve read about the voting process this year. Please share things you’ve read or heard in the comments.
And oh yeah: Vote.