Friday, October 31, 2008


Sara Shookman

Voting is a civic duty. It's a privilege. For millions of Americans in our past, the right to vote was life or death.

But voting is also just plain hard.

The candidates, the issues, the ballot items. It's a lot to think about. That's why I was so impressed by the senior government students at Alexander High School.

The Lessons
My first chance to vote in November 2004 was also a presidential election. Nothing makes voting more exciting than the national scale of the presidential race. I tried hard to free myself of any bias to make the right decision for myself. But it really wasn't that easy.

The pressures of television campaign ads were calling out to me, the uninformed voter. "Vote No!" "Vote Yes!" How do you know whom to believe? There were things I read and heard that seemed contradictory. There were issues I thought I understood and loopholes I knew I didn't.

I wish I had had what the AHS students did: a place to listen and learn.

The Leanings
Government teacher Joel Laufman said it's difficult to teach a class without revealing his own partisanship. "I try to play devil's advocate," he said.

But his students have asked him day in and day out what party he'll support on Tuesday. Why? Because even through all the dialogue and debate, they still can't tell.

It's usually not so fair at home. Many families have a political tradition of sorts that can be hard to stand up against. When Senior Lauren Raines said the issues can get heated at her house, I was in awe of her conviction.

After my own exploration of the political process, I was an apple that didn't fall far from the tree. I did the research. I know how I personally feel. But often my feelings are similar to those rampant in my family.

For Raines to know at 17 that she feels differently is democracy at work.

The Local Races
If you missed the opportunity to be an educated voter in the past, you still have time for the 2008 Election. Most people have an idea of whom they will support for president, but statewide issues and local candidates get little widespread attention.

The Athens County League of Women Voters has complied a 2008 Voter Guide to local candidates and ballot items.

No comments: