3 Principles for Voting

Election Day is less than a week away, so instead of giving you more information about candidates or policies at the last minute I’ve decided to simply share 3 principles for voting that I used when filling out my absentee ballot this past week. I hope they are helpful for you as well.

Your Vote Affects People

For me, this is the most important principle for voting. Depending on your socio-economic class, race, education, or a host of other factors, certain measures or propositions on your ballot may not affect you, regardless of their outcome. It may be tempting to gloss over those items and fill in the “yes” or “no” bubbles without giving it much thought. Please don’t vote flippantly. Remember that exercising your right to vote is a powerful privilege and that the outcome of your vote will affect real people.

A number of measures on my ballot would benefit low income individuals in areas of education and housing if passed. They could also, however, result in slightly higher taxes. It would be easy for me, coming from a comfortable middle-class background, to only think of the benefits or disadvantages for myself and completely disregard the countless other people my vote would affect. After doing some additional research on the measures, I did my best to vote in such a way that would benefit others, not just myself.

Your Political Party May Not Always Be Right

Actually, your political party most certainly isn't always right. So much of politics is built on tradition, and it can be easy for our parties to get stuck in a rut on certain issues. As you research the candidates, propositions, and measures on your ballot try to consult a source that identifies itself as neither Democrat nor Republican. By researching using an unbiased source you can make decisions based on what you think is right instead of based on how your party would vote.

This year a proposition to abolish the death penalty was on my California ballot. Typically Republicans support capital punishment and Democrats oppose it. However, as a Christian I believe that life is precious and should be protected. People are made in God’s image and no matter how heinous their crime, it is not up to us to choose when their life should end.  We do not know what God may have planned for them or if they might come to trust Jesus Christ while in prison. Republicans are pro-life when it comes to abortion, but pro-death when it comes to capital punishment. This is a major contradiction in the Republican Party platform, and one that I could not support, so I voted differently than most other Republicans on this issue. If your party is wrong about something, don’t hesitate to cast your vote in the opposite direction.

Don't Give In To Peer Pressure

This election cycle has been brutal. The inflammatory rhetoric, back-stabbing, and open shaming of opposition supporters has everyone on the defensive. I have seen too few individuals able to disagree respectfully and civilly with their friends, family, or colleagues. You have probably heard from your uncle why Trump is the only hope for America, or from your niece or office mate why Hillary is the only candidate fit to run the country. Listen politely, by all means, but don’t vote for a candidate because someone else told you to. Do your research, check your sources, say a prayer, and then boldly bubble in (or write in) your choice.

I’m pretty sure no one in my immediate family is voting for Hillary Clinton. In fact, some have proudly declared their support for Trump on social media. As an advocate for refugees and immigrants I could never in good conscience vote for Trump, and I’ve found that many others in my field feel the same. But their solution is to vote for Clinton, and I don’t feel right about that either. Both sides have argued that a third party vote is a “waste” since it is unlikely to change the outcome. I have listened politely, but when it came time to fill out my ballot, I didn't let peer pressure from any side sway me. I made a choice boldly, and since I’m the only one who can answer for that choice, I think bold is the best way to go.

I hope you find these principles for voting helpful as you head to the polls on Tuesday. No matter the outcome, I can rest in the knowledge that God is in control. Be reminded of that if you’re tempted to worry while filling in your bubbles at your local polling place.