I got my first civics lesson pretty early in life. My mom believed people needed to be involved in elections. So it was natural for her to want me to learn what this politics thing was all about. Early on she took me with her to put up yard signs and to hand out literature during campaigns. That was ok, but what really got my attention was when she took me to the polls.
That was back in the day with the big voting machines with the half curtain and all the levers you had to pull for each of the candidates you wanted to vote for. Holding my hand, Mom would go to the machine, pull the big lever to close the curtain, and then begin pulling the little levers, explaining to me what she was doing and who we were voting for and why. Then, when she was done, she’d pull the big lever again and I would hear the click click click as all the votes Mom had cast were registered and the curtain would open. I was hooked—for life. Voting was a big deal in our family—always. Both of my parents took it seriously and taught me to as well. But more than that, I caught the excitement of voting from my mom especially.
Election Day wasn’t just another day in our house; it was an exciting day. We’d get up early, go to the polls, make some calls and check to see that all of our friends remembered it was Election Day. Then, after the polls closed, we’d gather to watch the returns come in to see if our candidates had won. It was a fun day, but it was also about responsibility, duty and opportunity for us. And it remains that for me today.
Frankly, I think all American Christians should find Election Day exciting. The opportunity to vote shouldn’t be met with “oh no, it’s voting time again. I have to hear and watch all those stupid ads, have who knows how many phone calls and get all that mail. I just wish it would go away.” That’s the wrong view!
Some Christians need a change in view and attitude on this issue. This is a time when we as believers get to directly influence our God-given government, which in itself is a blessing. Having a Republican form of government rather than a democracy or a dictatorship or really any other kind of government is an incredible blessing, one that we should be grateful for. But this distinctive form of government requires knowledgeable citizen participation to work right.
“We the people” is not just a nice saying; it’s a statement of responsibility. We as citizens have the duty, the obligation, the honor of participating actively in our government. As Christians, I believe we have a stewardship responsibility in this area. Taking a pass, sitting it out is not the answer. It’s not the right decision. Frankly, it’s that approach that has helped to put us where we are right now in this state and country. Christians not exercising their civic stewardship. We should be involved, and we should be involved far more cheerfully and with more excitement than we often are.
And now you get to practice being involved in your government with some excitement and good cheer by getting ready to vote in the Fall Partisan Primary Election next Tuesday, August 12. Here are some easy steps to do that. First, visit myvote.wi.gov to find out what races will be on your ballot. Just click on Regular Voter on that home page and then follow the directions. When you get to your voting record, you’ll see “What’s on my ballot” on the left sidebar. Click on that and you’ll see your sample ballot.
Once you know the races, spend some time checking on the candidates and where they stand on the issues important to you. Visit their web sites, call their campaigns, talk to people who you trust. See if there are voter guides online. I know there are. If you don’t have access to the internet, call us and we’ll do our best to help you. Call 888-378-7395; that’s 888-378-7395.
If you can’t make the polls on Tuesday, August 12, you can vote early at your clerk’s office through the close of business this Friday, August 8. Or you can get an absentee ballot and send it in by mail, but it must reach the clerk no later than Election Day.
And finally, maybe you can be instrumental in lighting a fire on this important issue in the life of a young person, just like my mom did for me. Think about who you can take with you to the polls and how you will share the excitement you have regarding the blessing of living in America where “we the people” is more than just words on a document. I’ll see you at the polls!