SPRING PRIMARY ELECTIONS IN WISCONSIN
Do you have anything highlighted on your calendar for Tuesday, February 18? Did you know that Tuesday, February 18 is Spring Primary Election day in Wisconsin? Do you know that low-voter-turnout elections mean every vote is especially important and can make a huge difference in the results of any given race?
Whether you could answer yes to any or all of these questions, the truth is we begin the 2014 elections this month with the Spring Non-Partisan Primary. The truth is spring elections are notoriously low voter turnout. The truth is you need to find out if you should highlight Tuesday, February 18 on your calendar.
Wisconsin’s spring non-partisan elections are when we elect almost all of our local officials. The primary on Tuesday, February 18, narrows the field to two candidates for each position for the Spring General Election on Tuesday, April 1.
Not everyone will have a primary election on Tuesday, February 18, but it’s important that you find out if you do. Not knowig is really pretty inexcusable.
You can find out if you have a primary by calling your city, village or town clerk. That phone number is in the phone book. Or you can check out myvote.wi.gov online. On the home page most people will click on “Regular Voter.” From there, just follow the instructions. If you have a primary, you will be notified of that and have a sample ballot so that you can see the offices and the candidates.
The potential offices you could be voting for on February 18 include mayor, city council, town or village board, county board, municipal judge, circuit court judge, and school board. All of these offices are non-partisan, meaning the candidates do not run as a representative of a political party.
Each of these local offices impacts your life and your family’s life in direct ways. In fact, no level of government impacts our lives more and more directly than local government. These are people we often personally know—and if we don’t know them, we should make a point of getting to know them. The decisions they make have a profound impact on our communities—from garbage and recycling laws, to zoning laws, from property tax assessments and collections to utility services, from city and county parks to school truancy laws, from street maintenance to adoption of academic standards and more. In addition, being a good citizen is part of our Christian responsibility. At a minimum, as Christian citizens of this Republic, we need to vote and to vote knowledgeably, responsibly and prayerfully.
After you find out if you have a primary in your locale, it is important to then get informed about the candidates. Don’t just show up at the polls on Tuesday, February 18 and cast a blind vote. Frankly, that may be worse than not voting if in your ignorance you vote for someone whose values are totally opposed to yours. And, again, in these low-voter-turn-out elections, every vote matters even more than it matters in a higher-voter-turn-out election. What if your wrong vote is the one vote by which the candidate wins? You say that can’t happen? Guess again.
A couple of years ago a friend of our organization went to vote in the spring election and saw that no one was running for the county board seat in his district. He wrote his name in and then called his wife and told her what he had done and suggested she also write his name in. She did. When the polls closed that evening, that race was a dead-even tie between our friend and another write-in candidate. Apparently another guy had the same idea. He had two votes, and our friend had two votes. According to the rules for election ties in that community, the candidates’ names were thrown in a hat and one name drawn out and declared the winner. Our friend won—with two votes and a blind hat draw. Seriously, you just never know.
So how do you get information on the candidates that are on your primary ballot? I recommend calling them. Ask them questions; get a feel for who they are and what they believe. Check them out online. Most candidates even for local offices have web sites today. Attend forums and panels—or host one if no one else is. Check the local paper. Most papers do questionnaires or interviews with candidates. Maybe the candidate will knock on your door. That’s always helpful; but if he/she does not show up on your doorstep, take it upon yourself to get educated on the office and the candidates. It’s important that you do.
So I ask again, do you have anything highlighted on your calendar for Tuesday, February 18? Did you know that Tuesday, February 18 is Spring Primary Election day in Wisconsin? Do you know that low-voter-turnout elections mean every vote is especially important and can make a huge difference in the results of any given race? You’re without excuse now that you’ve listened to this commentary. Please, get busy and find out this week if you need to have Tuesday, February 18 circled on your calendar.