When I go to my local DeKalb County polling place one week from today (July 31 – mark your calendars, please), I will find two categories of votes to cast:
1. Things I want to vote on:
I want to vote for my state representatives and senators. It’s more than a right. I believe it’s the duty of citizens in a representative democracy to vote for the legislators who represent them in their municipal, state and national lawmaking bodies. Because I live in DeKalb, I also get to vote for a county commission and county CEO. It really doesn’t take a lot of time to go down a list of candidates for offices and make an reasonably well-informed decision. Even it were a more difficult task than it is, I still consider it a duty, so I’d do it regardless
2. Things I resent being asked to vote on:
Sharing the ballot with those offices are positions and ballot questions I don’t want to vote on. “Don’t want” doesn’t quite capture my feelings. More like resent. More like I drive by yard signs for these offices and curse.
I’m not cursing the candidates. I’m cursing that someone is asking me to vote for offices like Clerk of Superior Court of DeKalb County. I had to Google to learn that the Clerk of DeKalb County Superior Court manages the county’s land and court records. That’s an important job and I’m guessing that to be a good or great clerk requires government record-keeping experience, management savvy and ethics. How I can possibly know if they have any or all of the candidates have any or all of those qualities? I’m not saying they don’t. I’m saying there exists no credible, independent, public source of information to help me even venture a guess about who among them would be most clerktastic. Why not just have our other elected officials pick the clerk?
I’m not singling out the candidates for clerk of the court. There’s the Public Service Commission. The sheriff’s office. I also resent having to vote for judges. I’d prefer they were nominated by an elected executive and approved by a legislative body – like the feds do. Sandra Day O’Connor and I don’t have a lot in common, but we agree that electing judges is a bad idea. We also both like the taste of Big Macs and believe in the importance of rigorous education in civics.
This year the biggest “I resent you even asking me” ballot question is the one that’s getting all the news attention – the transportation sales tax referendum (or T-SPLOST). Unlike the clerk or judge positions, there’s a mountain of information about it so at leat I can cast an informed vote. But back to my original nag: I’d rather let my municipal and state legislators and elected executives make the nitty gritty decisions – or better yet rely on expert civil servants to do it for them, then hold the elected officials accountable. That the state punted vital regional transportation decisions to a referendum is, in this voter’s opinion, a dereliction of duty. If there were a Chief of Unfocused, Impotent, Non-Violent Rage position on the ballot, I’d be a suitable write-in.
Speaking of the transportation vote, Atlanta Magazine is having a T-SPLOST Tweetup (say that five-times fast, then wipe the saliva off your screen) tomorrow from Noon to 1:30P. Details here. I’ll be there.