As you are aware, there is about one week left until Election Day. We are in what political pundits refer to as the “silly season,” mostly because you are and will continue to be inundated with politically motivated commercials, phone calls, talking points, front door visits, etc. Yes, it can be annoying. But it is essential to remember the reason behind it. We are about to elect the next president of the United States. Considering the state our nation is currently in, this will most likely be the most important presidential election in which you will vote. Besides, the result of this election will make history one way or another; be a part of it.
By now most of you know who you are going to vote for. It is obvious that I’m marking my ballot for Barack Obama. For those of you planning on making the same choice, I urge you: take nothing for granted. The polls right now show Obama with a double digit lead over McCain. Before the primary season started, the polls suggested that the Democratic nomination for president was a lock for Hillary Clinton. I didn’t put much faith in polls then, and I don’t put much faith in them now. Despite claims by the McCain camp that he is “measuring the drapes” for the White House, Obama has wisely remained humble; he understands that he’s not in the clear yet. There’s a risk that voters might look at his lead and not think that their vote is needed for an Obama victory.
In Kansas, the logic is a little different. Granted, we are considered to be a “red” state, and many people in our demographic simply won’t vote because they figure it’s useless. I’ve been saying for months that Kansas will go “blue” this year. Of course, people look at me as if I’m crazy when I say that. But we do have a Democratic, female governor, so Kansas does have the capacity to elect Democrats. On top of that, consider this fact: in 2004, 1,400 people turned up to the Democratic caucus; in 2008, that number went up to 36,722. That’s an increase of over 2,600 percent! Since Obama won roughly 74 percent of those votes, it’s safe to assume that the surge in voter turnout was due to support for his candidacy. Why is this relevant? Because not only did 19,516 people show up for the 2008 Republican caucus, only 4,587 voted for John McCain; sixty percent (11,627) voted for Mike Huckabee. Many skeptics are quick to point out that more people vote on Election Day than at a caucus. This can be equally true for Democrats as it is for Republicans. And if Barack Obama can boost voter turnout 2,600 percent, this state can go “blue” for the first time since, I don’t know, forever. If that occurs, everyone will be talking about Kansas; it will literally shock the nation. How cool would that be? It’s not such a far-fetched idea; if everyone who wants to vote for Barack actually goes out and does it, it’s a done deal. So if Obama is your candidate, prove it! Go to the polls and take a group of friends with you!
Important DO’s and DON’Ts to remember when you go to vote:
DO take your driver’s license or state photo ID. If you don’t have either of these, other acceptable forms include: Utility bill, paycheck stub, W2 form, any sort of government check, US military ID card, college ID card, passport, naturalization document (as long as it contains your name and photo or address), and any government employee ID.
DON’T try to persuade voters one way or the other. You might get arrested.
DON’T wear anything that promotes a particular candidate. It is illegal to campaign for a candidate within 250 feet of a polling place. This includes wearing buttons and/or clothing bearing a candidate’s name and/or slogan. HOWEVER, if you remove the paraphernalia in question, you may return to the voting place and cast your ballot.
DON’T let anyone tell you that voting was canceled or postponed for whatever reason.
DON’T let anyone tell you that your registration is invalid and you are unable to vote. The only time a voter’s name would be removed from the voter list is if the individual gave a written request to be removed, is convicted of a felony, legally deemed mentally incapacitated by a court, or dead. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!
Voting this year is easier than ever; you don’t even have to wait until Nov. 4! To vote early in Kansas, go to:
Shawnee County Election Office
911 S.W. 37th
Monday-Friday 8 a.m-8 p.m.
Questions? Call (785) 266-0285.
The deadline for early voting is noon on Monday, Nov. 3.