Say Goodbye to Election Day

The March 3 Presidential Primary Election will be the first to comply with the 2016 California Voter’s Choice Act giving voters more flexibility but less connection to their community.

No longer does one have to wait until Election Day.  Now, voting centers (replacing polling places) open for business Feb. 22.  That’s 10 days to cast your votes.  It almost makes campaigning up until Election Day irrelevant.

Plus, you don’t have to vote in your neighborhood; anywhere in the county is okay.

Now, there is less chance you will see the people who live on your street casting ballots.  Just what we need in today’s community-starved times, eliminating one of the rare opportunities to observe with one’s own eyes democracy in action and sharing it with fellow Americans. The patriotic pleasure of going in person during the designated hours on that one day and bumping into neighbors will become a story to share with your grandchildren.

If convenience supersedes community, why not allow everyone to vote via their cell phones, any time, any day during an election year?  That way no one has to ever vote in person again.  Democracy lite.  Already people are spoiled buying everything they need online, not having to mingle with humans in a mall.  Soon, people won’t ever have to interact with others.

Cell phones and the internet have trained people to turn themselves inward, not looking up literally, cocooning themselves away from others.

How bizarre it is to be out walking my dog and instead of saying “hi” to people, watching blank stares past me, earbuds transporting them to someplace other than the here and now. The person right in front of them does not exist.

However, in trying to make voting as painless as possible, they are inviting more uninformed people to join the democratic process.

It doesn’t bother me if only 60% of the electorate chooses to participate.  What is troublesome is how little so many know about the country they live in.

I was shocked to learn that my journalism students, who one would think would be the most aware teenagers on campus regarding issues in the world, did not know the name of the Vice President.

Further, they did not know who their representative was.  Imagine not knowing that the most famous congressman today, Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who spearheaded the impeachment inquiry on President Trump, represents the area in which they live.

In just one week, I learned that students know very little about Abraham Lincoln even though they benefit from staying home on a day dedicated to his service to America.

Not one of my students have ever seen Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln at Disneyland.   Shouldn’t their parents have taken their children to such an entertaining yet educational attraction?

And when Vermont appeared in a lesson, I couldn’t find one student who knew what part of the country that state can be found.  “The southwest” and “the northwest” were the answers I received.  From honors students.

How can a 16-year-old go through 11 years of education and not know basic information?

One of the primary reasons for free public education to all is to ensure that students share a common base of knowledge, including what is means to be an American.

We should put more time in educating our youth about the country they live in in order to ensure the future electorate be informed, productive citizens.

And we should expect people to make a minimum effort to walk to their neighborhood polling place.  It is one’s civic duty.

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