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Time to do homework before election day

Time to do homework before election day
Time to do homework before election day
Judy O'Bannon

We hear the warnings from every corner of the earth: Our planet is in crisis.

In the United States, we feel surrounded by the negative fallout of climate change, the impacts of a dangerous virus pandemic, a faltering economy, erupting racial tensions and political discord. We as a nation are standing at crossroads in time and will be called upon to choose the route to a positive future. Thank goodness we have the framework of a democracy out of which we can participate in these decisions. We are all called upon to vote in the upcoming election.

We hear reports of the great divides between our citizens that break along differing political views, individual economic situations, racial, religious, ethnic and generational preferences. Conditions have driven many to join lockstep with one side or another on any one issue. Listening to various debates, it sounds like folks are expressing diametrically opposed interpretations of a situation or person.

How can we have good and open discussions in such a caustic environment? How are we the voters going to make good choices out of this discord?

An informed citizenry is essential to a healthy democracy. How are we going to develop our ideas and make our choices? Who should we believe? One way to get the most reliable information is to watch debates between candidates. The first presidential debate is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept 29. Why not watch it with family and friends? A good constructive discussion helps us form our own thinking as to what we value and want for our future.

It is being said that news outlets have taken sides with either a more conservative program or a more liberal agenda. My advice is watch the news daily and vary which ones you watch. Which ones give you credible commentators and guest experts? Which channels provide documented information and quotes? I find that public broadcasting appears to present both sides of an issue and a broader view of what makes today’s news than many other programs. Here in Southern Indiana, we find KETV runs the evening news at 7.

Disregard paid campaign ads, which are developed by professional media experts who know how to poll for words and ideas that can produce the results they want. Instead, what are the credentials of those talking heads you hear on television and radio? Credible records of good reporting go a long way with me.

It is during a campaign that candidates should make statements as to what they believe and what they plan to do. How do pre-election statements stack up to post-election performance? Hold officeholders accountable.

As important as the national elections are the state and local elections.

Sometimes in the years in which we elect our president, other offices get over looked such as U.S. House, Governor, Attorney General, State House and Senate, judges, county council, school boards and local ballot measures. These public servants really impact our everyday lives up close and personal. The effects of their views on finances and the priority given to needs and opportunities can influence our total community for generations. Check out the qualifications, goals and plans of everyone on the November ballot.

Remember, in Indiana each voter needs to present an official government-issued photo ID. A driver’s license is an acceptable ID, but check for other options on IN.gov.

Vote in a manner that suits your schedule. In Indiana, to vote absentee, you must meet certain requirements. Anyone over 65 qualifies. Find the other accepted conditions at IN.gov or call your county clerk’s office. Applications for an absentee ballot are being accepted now. Be sure to follow directions, sign the envelope, mail it in early and check to see if it was received. Ballots must arrive at the election center before noon on Nov. 3 regardless of the postmark date.

If you are worried about crowded polling places on Nov. 3, we are told that all medical precautions are being observed such as personal protective equipment for workers, social distancing and sanitizing provided. If you wonder about the location of your polling place, call the clerk’s office or check the report to be published in this newspaper.

I think a good alternative for many election-day worries can be alleviated by voting early. All you need to do is show up at your county courthouse between Oct. 6 and Nov. 2 during regular weekday hours or on the two Saturdays preceding the election.

No matter how you decide to vote, you need to be registered at least 29 days before the Nov. 3 election. Call the voting registration office (Harrison County’s number is 812-738-4289 and Crawford County’s is 812-338-2565); they can tell you whether you are registered and, if not, what to do. Such information can also be found on the internet at IN.gov.

The election will not solve all of our problems, but the decision of the citizens will set a guide as to what people want and how they believe it is best to achieve their goals.

This is your home. Help to make it reflect what you want your life to look like.

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