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Last-Minute Ballot Anxiety

Spark Public

Last-Minute Ballot Anxiety

Experiencing voter’s block? How do you make a decision when you’re stuck on the fence?

November 4, 2016

Election day is TOMORROW and I have yet to mail in my ballot.

It’s mostly filled out. And don’t worry — I’ll get it out on time. But my procrastination isn’t spawned by laziness or apathy; quite the opposite. I want to make informed and thoughtful decisions, but the overwhelming amount of information and propaganda bombarding us has me sitting on the fence, pulling out my hair and wondering if my decisions will have fatal ramifications.

Okay, that’s maybe a bit dramatic, but you get my point.

Like many of my friends, I don’t affiliate with a particular political party. I also cannot cast my vote based solely on numbers and data because numbers and data aren’t representative of real human beings. Real people with families, circumstances and futures to think about. Yes, it’s a bit of an impractical, “touchy-feely” way of looking at things, but I feel a very real sense of civic duty and responsibility to consider the collective “them” in how I vote.

When it comes to government and politics, the harsh reality is that there’s no one fix-all solution. And that’s my struggle with voting: It’s not always about which initiative or candidate will do the most good. It’s about deciphering what will cause the least amount of harm to the least amount of people.

Let’s take ST3, for instance. I’m not going to dive too deeply into all of the arguments and statistics — this isn’t that kind of article. But, if you live in Seattle, or you commute to Seattle, you know that traffic increasingly sucks. No one enjoys spending an hour and a half sitting in traffic for a 10-mile commute. And while the bus system isn’t horrible, busses have to sit in traffic, too.

So at the end of the day, do I wish we had a more expansive light-rail system? Of course. But do I want to pay for something that won’t benefit me anytime soon, or not at all in the likely event that I leave Seattle at some point in the next 30 years? And do I want to make the rest of the state pay for something that will mostly benefit Seattle?

But then again, I have to ask myself: Am I really okay with depriving future generations of a more efficient alternative to transportation, the way generations before us did? How do you decide on an issue that will have such long-lasting ramifications for so many people?

Then there’s the governor’s race. Inslee has helped create more jobs and lowered college tuition in Washington State. I love that he fought for marriage equality and supports equal rights for the LGBTQ community. So he’s my man, right?

But then there’s his approach (or lack thereof) to addressing homelessness in Seattle — and homelessness is a pretty important issue for me. If we don’t figure out a better way of getting people off the streets and on their feet, our economy will continue to suffer. The problem has only worsened since Inslee took office. It’s been a whole year since Mayor Murray declared a state of emergency on homelessness in Seattle and little progress has since been made.

This failure has been Bryant’s main criticism of Inslee, but I have a hard time getting on board with his blatant opposition to homeless encampments. Yes, we need better long-term solutions, but those don’t happen overnight. Where are people supposed to go in the meantime?

So who do I cast my vote for? A guy who’s partially to blame for a continuous increase in homelessness in our cities? Or a guy who, while he seems committed to addressing the problem long-term, is offering no realistic near-term solutions.

And look, I’m not so presumptuous that I believe my one little vote is so important that it will be the deciding factor on such groundbreaking initiatives. But I’m grateful that I even get to provide input on government matters. And I take it seriously.

So, how will I make up my mind? Well, after taking in a fire-hose dose of information and listening to the bias rationale from both sides, I think I’ll have to find a way to trust my “touchy-feely” gut.

In the end, isn’t that all we really have to go by?


Jen Germain

Jen Germain is a media producer with the Creative Services team at Cascade Public Media, helping to drive brand and programming initiatives. Previously, Jen worked as a producer with Spark Public, where she helped lead digital strategy and mentor a team of millennial multimedia journalists. Find her on Twitter @jengermain. 

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