Originally published in the Central CIrcuit.
In this nominal republic of Washington State, every couple of years we hash out our collective issues in a public forum known as an election. Politicians recite slippery promises, corporations scramble to buy said politicians, and at the end of the day the voters choose.
There are plenty of reasons to not vote. Maybe you’re too busy working three jobs to educate yourself about the candidates; maybe you don’t want to legitimize the government by participating in its elections; maybe you’ve worked out for yourself that it is statistically impossible for your individual vote to change the outcome of the election.
These are all understandable rationales for electoral abstinence, but they also all amount to giving up on democracy. Low voter turnout allows business interests to more easily buy elections through well-placed advertisements, and it lets incumbents outlive their usefulness as elected officials. It is the position of this magazine that people should, in general, control their own lives rather than acquiesce to the powers-that-be. The Central Circuit therefore exhorts you to participate in the Seattle city election on November 5th. Here’s how:
1. Register to vote. Normally, you can do this in a few minutes on the Washington Secretary of State website. However, the deadline to register online for the Nov. 5th election has already passed. You have until Oct. 28 register in-person to the King County elections department down in Renton (919 SW Grady Way, to be precise); bring your driver’s license or state ID. To be eligible to vote in King County you must be:
A citizen of the United States
A legal resident of Washington state
At least 18 years old by election day
Not under the authority of the Department of Corrections
Not disqualified from voting due to a court order
2. Educate yourself. Because your candidate-preferences should have more coherence than the splatter-trail of a paintball-gun-toting chimpanzee, learn who’s who. Seattle.gov has a public voter’s guide, and the free weekly paper The Stranger prints a handy cheat-sheet.
3. Vote, and make your friends and family vote, too. Ballots are mailed to voters, and can either be returned through mail (you’ll have to buy a stamp) or returned to drop boxes or roving vote-vans. Find drop box locations and other info at KingCounty.gov/elections.
Voting can be a laborious process, filled with red-tape and contemptible candidates. Just remember that this is what democracy looks like: grumbling about abuses in government (and its corporate handlers) means exactly nothing unless you’re willing to step up and create change, both within the established political process and outside of it. As you approach your ballot, bear in mind the words of the Irish socialist and beard-enthusiast George Bernard Shaw:
Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.
And choose carefully; we’re all counting on you.