I posted a link to the Kentucky Secretary of State page with all of the ballots to my facebook page earlier this week. I took some time last night to actually look at the ballot I will get in Grant county and make some decisions. I will admit that this is the first time I have really researched the candidates beyond the top of the ticket, but it won't be the last. It was a pretty interesting process – not only what I found, but also what I didn't – and the way I made my decisions. So here, without further introduction is how I intended to participate in our democracy and support our republic on Nov 6th along with my basic reasoning.
First choice (starting at the bottom of the ballot): A yes/no vote on an amendment to the Kentucky State Constitution
This seems pretty straight forward to me. More rights for the people rather than less. But then again, if the rights have to be specified, then if they are not specified, do they not exist? I know this was the argument from some of the founding fathers against the Bill of Rights and I find myself wondering the same thing.
My Vote: No. I think there is more to be lost by adding specified rights to the constitution than by specifically allowing hunters to have constitutionally protected rights to hunt.
Next choice: Crittenden City Council
OK, didn't really know / remember that Crittenden even had a city council. Wonder what they do / when they meet? May have to look into that and go to a meeting to see for myself… Anyway, in terms of making my picks on this one, I have to choose six and there are eight choices. So really this come down to eliminating two. As you might expect, its pretty hard to find info about a city council election in a city with a population of less than 4,000. In fact I think it might be impossible. Despite applying my best Google-fu I was unable to find out any information about the candidates in this race, much less the Crittenden City council in general. Even nearby Williamstown's city government has a webpage, facebook and twitter (it is the county seat after all) but no such luck for Crittenden. My plan is to vote for the incumbents since they didn't so anything this year to really even let me know they existed, so I expect more of the same next year – exactly what I am looking for from government. I just need to find out who they are…
My Vote: whoever the incumbents are (guess I need to go to a meeting to figure that out).
Next choice: School Board
Well, this should be easy. Pick one and there is one choice. I guess I could write in my own name, but I might actually win and then would have to decline since I wouldn't want the scandal of being on the school board when I send my kids to private school in another county. There's only so much I can take in service of my county.
My Vote: Congrats Alice. You earned it.
Next Choice: School Board
Didn't I just do this? Oh wait, this is for the 1st district. That's a whole other district from the one that Alice is going to win. They're making this one easy on me though: I get to pick one and there is one choice.
My Vote: Jim meet Alice. Alice meet Jim. Don't screw things up.
Next Choice: Constable
Ah, finally a vote that matters. Seriously, constable is an important job with all the same powers as a Sheriff or other peace officer. I met a constable once and he told me that traditionally the constable is responsible for such things as serving warrants, dealing with truancy and performing animal castrations. No, I'm not kidding and I'm also not sure if those last two duties were ever execute simultaneously. Even though this is a little wider race than Crittenden City hall, I wasn't able to find anything about either of the candidates. So how to decide?
One added perk of being constable is, just like any other peace officer, you get the right to own fully automatic weapons without a tax stamp and that were manufactured after 1986. Since I am pretty sure that the guy with the R behind is name is more likely to take advantage of that, he gets my vote.
My Vote: John Childers (make sure I get the invite to your range for demo day)
Next Choice: A few lawyers and an engineer
Not sure why these are grouped together on the ballot. Another one choice / one option race for commonwealth attorney so James will be getting my vote (see I can vote for people regardless of the letter after their name).
For county clerk there is a real choice. And yes, I do know what a circuit clerk actually does. The reason I know that is Tina Melton actually stopped by my house a few weeks ago and asked for my vote. I asked her what exactly the clerk did and she explained it to me. She seemed nice enough and I bought our house from her husband. So Tina it is.
What's up with County Surveyor? No one wanted to run? Is it that bad of a job? Maybe I'll write myself in here and then change all the property lines so everything is owned by me….bwuahahahah.
My vote: James for Commonwealth Attorney, Tina for Circuit Clerk and me for County Surveyor (wth)
Next choice: State Senate and Reps
Finally some races big enough to warrant a few hits on Google. I was able to discover that Mr. Thayer is the incumbent and is running for this fourth term. Mr. Holcomb is a relative unknown who ran unopposed in the primary. Beyond that I really couldn't find much about Mr. Thayer's voting record, but I did see that he has endorsements from Rand Paul and the NRA. I think that may be enough to put him over the top, even though I have a strong urge to vote against any incumbent.
For the state rep its a race between two challengers with no incumbent. This is the seat formerly held by Royce Adams, who replaced the tires on my trailer by the way (well he didn't do it – but one of the boys at his tire shop in Williamstown did). The big issue here seems to be which of the candidates actually got the endorsement of the NRA? Surprisingly beyond that there doesn't seem to be much news. I guess the 61st district of Kentucky is still too small to warrant news coverage (or at least the kinds that shows up online). Gonna have to go with Linder here, primarily because I disliked his quotes less in the Grant County News piece.
My Vote: Thayer for State Senate and Linder for State Rep.
Next choice: US House of Reps
We get to vote for this one twice. The second vote for an "unexpired term" is to fill out the last few months of Geoff Davis' term, who retired in July of 2012, citing family concerns. Evidently the Clerk of the House of Representatives has been acting as my Rep since July. I don't even know who that is... Anyway, then we get to vote again for the same slate of candidates for a regular 2 year term. I wonder if anyone will vote for two different people in each?
The big issue of late in this race seems to be whether Mr. Massie is ducking debates with Mr. Adkins. The good news is there is a debate scheduled and confirmed by both men coming up on October 22nd. I think I'll have to watch this one to make up my mind. As for the third candidate, Mr. Lewis, I think I'll pass. What little I could stomach to read about his platform, he seems to be a one issue candidate (abortion) and while I applaud him for his convictions, we need someone with a little broader perspective than any single issue.
My Vote: Whoever I support more after watching the debate on the 22nd.
Last Choice: The big one...
I'm going to approach this one like I did the first one I wrote about - I'm going to figure out who I'm taking off the list.
First to exit my realm of consideration is the Terry/Smith ticket, for exactly the same reason I disqualified Mr. Lewis for my vote to be my congressional representative - they are a one issue candidate.
Next to fall of the list is the Stein/Honkala. While I have read some good things about the Green Party and their stances against out of control spending, I just can't get behind the idea that we need a "green version of the New Deal". The New Deal was one of most sweeping pieces of socialist propaganda in US history. Greewashing it won't make a second version any better for America.
Third to be cut from the list is Obama/Biden. Not because he did anything really wrong, but because he didn't do much right. And while I really don't know where Obama stands on things like a new AWB (although I know a lot more after the second debate than I did before), I really don't want to find out what he would do "unencumbered" with having to keep the people happy in order to win another term.
That leaves two. Romney/Ryan and Johnson/Gray. Kentucky has a total of 8 electoral votes (one reason we get no attention from the candidates) out of a total of 538 and has gone with the Republican candidate for President in 7 out of the last 10 elections and in 3 of the last 3. Polling indicates an overwhelming majority of likely voters in Kentucky in favor of the Romney/Ryan ticket. So it's not that I couldn't force myself to vote for Romney/Ryan if I thought that a vote somewhere else would cause the Obama/Biden ticket to win. Quite the opposite. However, I know that I could cast another vote for myself (hopefully Grant County would understand if I win the surveyor spot too) and Romney/Ryan are still going to end up with Kentucky's 8 paltry electoral college votes. If that's not the definition of a vote that doesn't matter, I don't know what is. So I'm going to go with the Johnson/Gray ticket.
There are lots of things I like about the libertarian party and a few things I don't like about Mr. Johnson's positions (foreign policy chief among them) but here's one thing I know is true: the two party system in the US is broken. The choices we get today are like the choices I gave my four year old getting dressed in the morning: blue pant or brown pants. They're still just pants - they have way more in common than different. Just as with my 4 year old, we get the illusion of a choice and so we don't fight. How does a vote for Johnson/Gray solve this? Pretty simply: according to Federal Election Commission rules, any party receiving at least 5% of the popular vote in the previous election will be eligible for matching funds. If Johnson can find a way to get at least 5% of the popular vote from states like Kentucky that will go either red or blue no matter, then we truly can have our cake and eat it to: something a little better than Obama for the next 4 years and a much more interesting election cycle, with more than just left and right, in 2016.
For my Ohio readers or any in other so called "swing states", I don't suggest this path. Your votes matter and will decide the presidency this year - your vote should be for who you want to representt you between Romney and Obama. But for voters in other states out there that are already decided, red or blue, think a little more long term than most Americans are used to and consider a vote for Johnson/Gray.
We all hear plenty about our duty to vote. I've voted in every election since I was able - 21 of them so far. But my 22nd will be the first where I have really looked at my choices ahead of time and made up my mind for reasons that make sense to me. You may agree with some, think I am nuts on others, or think I am taking it too lightly. All I ask is that you take the time to do the same - get your ballot. Look at your choices. Find out what they stand for, and pick the people you want to work for you carefully.
My vote: Johnson/Gray to have a better choice in 2016.