Are You Voting, and Why?

Jeff Alworth

"I think they're [the midterm elections] a referendum--from my perspective--which is kind of like your perspective, which is the Washington perspective, based upon who best to secure this country from further attack and who best to help this economy continue to grow."
--George W. Bush, This Week With George Stephanopoulos, Oct 22.

In 2004, Oregon was one of the key swing states in the Presidential election, and it was clear why people were voting.  I was at the Waterfront rally with John Kerry when an estimated 50,000 people showed up.  We knew what was at stake.

This year is totally different.  All the excitement is among those 50 legislative congressional districts and seven or eight states where the Senate and House hang in the balance.  Despite efforts by opponents to muster a charge, Oregon's 2nd and 5th have never appeared in the race-horse columns.  We have only a few ballot measures and a Governor's race to draw any real interest. 

So, are you going to vote (our survey says you will), and if you do, what will inspire you?  The prospect of a Democratic majority to lead Oregon, or the dread of Measure 48?  Do you see your vote as part of a larger movement to oust Republicans?  Is it a vote on Iraq or the economy, as President Bush suggested? 

I suspect turnout will decide who becomes the next governor, so I'm interested--what's getting you to the polls this year?

  • Sally (unverified)

    Personally, I find a close governor's race much more exciting than a presidential one. Democracy means more the more proximate it is. I also find a number of ballot measures this year compelling, either because they are threatening (48) or tempting (46-47). Additionally (I live in Medford) we have a number of hot local races, including for sheriff and for judge, and a couple of important and large bond measures.

    I would never forego a neighborhood election, or a city district election, or a city election, or a county election, or probably a state election. Though I go through the motion, intellectually as well as emotionally it's very hard to perceive that one's vote in a national election matters.

    I like elections that are close -- and close. :)

  • Kevin (unverified)

    Civic duty, that's why I'm going to vote and it's why I always vote.

    Those who don't vote ought not to complain. And since I love complaining that means that I have to vote. LOL

    Seriously, though... I do it out of civic duty.

  • (Show?)

    You mean 50 congressional districts.

  • Betsy (unverified)

    My ballot's already been mailed; the three most important issues for me this year were to vote yes on 26-84 (Portland Public Schools local option property tax) and no on 41 and 48 (I threw in a few other no votes on the rest of the statewide initiatives while I was at it...)

  • (Show?)

    We have only a few ballot measures and a Governor's race to draw any real interest.

    Oh, and the fight to take over the Oregon House!

  • Bill (unverified)

    I always vote. Just like I always do a lot of things. A responsibility to fulfill. That's the first thing that drives me. I don't always stay as informed as I should and so to that extent I don't fulfill it very well. That's one reason I come to this site. Conscience is my guiding light for how to vote. Like Sally says- a close race adds excitement. But a vote- as big or small as it is- is just acknowledging the truth about ourselves- however great or humble a place we have. That, I think in itself, is a valuable education.

  • (Show?)

    You mean 50 congressional districts.

    I do indeed. Text corrected.

    As for me, I am, as Kari suggested, voting optimistically. I think we can take back the House (in the Kremlin, SE Portland, my vote isn't going to help much, but...), hold the Governor's seat, and have an opportunity--finally!--to make some real changes.

    I am dispirited by the ballot measures, and plan to boycott all the statewide offerings. I'm also now boycotting signing petitions for the same reason. The system needs tinkering with to put the power back in the people's hands, not powerful outside ideologues who want to experiment with their pet ideas in Oregon. I think until we fix the entire system, it's worth not participating at all.

    I started filling out my ballot last night, got distracted, and it awaits me on my coffee table.

  • (Show?)

    I voted already. My #2 pencil worked overtime voting No on every single ballot measure.

    Kulongoski was masterful with his substance filled answers during his debate down here in Medford. The media covered Governor Kulongoski all day, beginning with the opening ceremony at Amy's Kitchen's new HUGE organic food production facility. His remarks there were on all stations at 5, 6 and 11PM. Too bad the best soundbites were not heard statewide. 150 business owners and elected officials heard the owner of Amy's Kitchen give the Governor credit for being a tough negotiator. He said the Governor sat down with him and stated," Hi, I'm Ted." The owner was utterly charmed by Ted's genuineness and his desire to improve Oregon's economy. Ted delivered up to 400 new living wage jobs to Southern Oregon. Thank you Governor.

    The debate down here received great coverage too. A large group of sign waving Democrats met the Governor at the TV studio before the debate was held. After the debate, Governor Kulongoski stopped by the Jackson County Democratic Headquarters where a standing room only crowd was waiting for him at their Debate Watch Party. Ted received a cold beer and a wagon load of support from his fellow Democrats. Governor Kulongoski hit 2 out of the park in Jackson County!

  • Dan (unverified)

    Here's why I'm voting: "Money"

  • RayCeeYa (unverified)

    I already turned in my ballot. The parental notification measure is the most important for me. Unfortunately it looks like it will probably pass no matter how I vote.

  • BlueNote (unverified)

    I already voted because I believe it is my civic duty and because I enjoy the fact that my vote is just as important as anyone else's vote. For one brief moment in time, I am equal in power to Phil Knight, Ted K, Gordon Smith, and any other other voter out there.

    Of course, now that I have voted I am back to being just another person being ground to dust under the jackboot of corporate America.

    But it was fun while it lasted!

  • Righty (unverified)

    Like many other here I vote because...

    1. It is the duty of every citizen to vote, and

    2. I am an opinionated person

    Those are the two reasons I will always vote, but I am also find the races and measures interesting.

  • John-Mark Gilhousen (unverified)

    There's no question of whether I'll vote... I already have voted. My ballot went back into the hands of the U.S. Postal Service the same day I received it.

    That in no way indicates "voter enthusiasm" on my part, as should become clear as I answer the second part of the question -- what motivated me to cast a ballot in this mid-term election.

    I'm not the sort to sit out elections even when the outcome is clear, or the issues lackluster. But even if I were, the Kulongoski-Saxton race would be more than sufficient to get me off my couch and to the mailbox with my ballot. Oregon cannot afford a rubber stamp to corporate interests occupying its governors' mansion at this crucial time, and I have little confidence in "slam dunk" prognostications.

    But there's more. I doubt that my state legislative district is going to elect a Democrat, and have small hope that we can break the logjams in Salem, but it sure won't be for lack of my vote.

    And more. While it nearly required employment of a motion discomfort bag to vote with Bill Sizemore on anything, the Insurance-Credit initiative demands my voice, as do the potentially disastrous term limit and tax cap measures.

    And, as if that weren't sufficient to motivate me... on our local ballot in Wasco County are some candidates and measures which are crucial.

    So, there you have it. I ended up being a highly motivated Democratic voter after all, despite my disappointment in our Governor's campaign for reelection, and even greater discouragement that the Second Congressional District of Oregon is an exception to Howard Dean's much ballyhooed "50 State Strategy." I can't help but believe that had Carol Voisin's strong challenge on the issues to Congressman Paul Walden's incumbency not been written off by both the state and national party organizations before it even started that he could have been forced to debate her, or at least publish his positions (his website is absolutely silent on all issues), and in so doing, OR-2 might well have joined the ride on the rising Democratic tide.

    But that disappointment is certainly not enough to make me despair of exercising my right to vote... and moves far enough away from the subject of the original question that I should probably save it for an after-election rant, the intensity of which will certainly be proportionate to the R-D split in the next Congress.


  • (Show?)

    I already voted. I think voting is a civic duty and I care passionately about Ted Kulongoski winning, all the ballot measures except for 42 and 44 losing, and the judicial races.

  • (Show?)

    Literally have my completed ballot sitting next to the work computer for dropping off on the way home this evening.

    What has motivated me above and beyond my principle of voting because of sense of duty to participate as a citizen (which is why I always vote anyway) to raise over $500 through my ActBlue page for various state and targeted Federal races...?

    Three things..

    1) building a firewall around the Gov. mansion because the prospect of Karen Minnis holding control over the State Leg. again only without a Democrat in the Governor's chair to hold the line is enough to make me break out in a sweat and my check book (or more accurately my debit card) and donate to Democratic candidate races.

    2) another Theocon piece of shit ballot measure (43).

    3) solidifying and growing the Democratic parties (state and local) in concert with the 50-state strategy, which is why I have also donated to Bev Backa, Mike Claudie, and even the Democratic challenger Carol Voisin against Walden in eastern Oregon.

    The rise of the fright-wing long ago made me leave the GOP and continue to push me frther and further as an activist to help the Democratic Party. Only once the fright-wing GOP has a poltical stake driven through its heart can a sane paleo-conservative brand of resonable GOP can take hold and merit consideration again at the ballot box.

  • (Show?)

    mea culpa about the repeat posts... had an ISP glitch there. If the admins can delat all but one of those posts that would be much appreciated. My appologies.

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)

    I vote because I share responsibility for what the State does, it is both my civic duty and ethical responsibility. When the State takes an action, it acts on my behalf (whether I like it or not) and I thus cannot avoid responsibilty. Further, the most basic of legal protections are at stake, in this election, and have come to be at risk due to voter apathy.

  • (Show?)

    Interesting how many people speak only of the civic responsibility to vote. Seems to indicate a particular moment in being an Oregon voter. There's no enthusiasm or anticipation, despite the very good things that may happen on November 7.

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)

    I must've misunderstood, I gave my generic reasons for voting. There is stuff that excites my interest this time out, and that's usually so. Ron Saxton is a trainwreck waiting to happen, 41&48 same, 42 I like-loath sponsor (unique), 43 is an oh-no, Carol Voisin is a friend - Walden is a Bushclone, ...

  • (Show?)

    I am voting because I always vote...well, just about always. I'm voting because I tell my friends so passionately that this crap is important, and it would be massively hypocritical for me not to vote. I am voting because Ted Kulongoski is working hard to improve our state, and his opponent is mounting a plastic campaign that lies about Ted's record while glossing over his own deficiencies. I'm voting because even though I know my future state rep (Ben Cannon) probably doesn't need my vote, I'm sure I'll be proud to say some day that I voted for him in his first run for public office. I'm voting because judicial elections, despite their lack of media attention, stand to have a huge impact on the lives of anybody in the county on either side of a lawsuit in the next 6 years and beyond.

    Then there's the ballot measures, which for the most part, I resent having to vote on. I'm dutifully casting my ballot against the bad ones, because I know the only way to prevent out-of-state billionaires from mucking up my favorite state is to stand strong. I'm voting yes on 42, because I was waiting for the opportunity to weigh in on that matter long before B.S. weighed in (and yes, I'm aware my rates might go up as a result.) I'm probably going to vote yes on 46 and 47, because our state has the least restriction on campaign contributions of any in the country...and I've seen the results. It may not be perfect, but I believe it will be an improvement.

    But most important, I'm voting because I intend to live in this state for a long, long time, and I want its government to serve all of us, and find a course that we can all be happy with. On the federal level, I've seen the results of apathy, and I feel strongly that active engagement is the only defense against the casual pursuit of self-interest by those in power.

  • (Show?)

    And I should point out, these points reflect my own point of view only, and not those of the judicial canidate I'm working for.

  • (Show?)

    Like just about everyone here, I too have voted, in part because I feel it is my civic duty, but also because I care about some of the issues on the ballot--particularly voting down the parental notification measure, and keeping Saxton out of office. (My home address is in the People's Republic of North Portland, so my vote won't help much on flipping the House, but that would be nice too!) Living in the UK as I currently do, voting helps me stay connected with my home in a tangible fashion. I am, however, quite grateful to be out of the range of the campaign ads!

  • Jay Ward (unverified)

    I've voted in every election since 1976, and was planning on voting in this one, but after finally having a chance to view Al Gore's presentation on global warming, I'm even more motivated to support those candidates who are working to avoid such a perilous future.

    And as referenced this AP story, in this state there's no more important race than the governor's race.

    Saxton and Kulongoski differ widely on environment


    By JULIA SILVERMAN / Associated Press

    Should Republican Ron Saxton unseat incumbent Democratic Gov. Ted Kulongoski this November, perhaps no area of state policy would see as swift a change as the environment.

    It's one of the issues where the two candidates stand furthest apart. And unlike action on education, or taxes, many of the initiatives Kulongoski has taken on the environment don't require legislative approval — leaving them open to a Saxton reversal.

    From global warming, to salmon and roadless forest conservation, Kulongoski has put Oregon in a position to lead our country to a more sustainable future. Conversely, Saxton has shown that he's willing to turn back the clock in order to serve his financial backers in the logging and automobile industry.

    So for the sake of the my son, the state and the planet, I'll not only vote, I'll donate to candidates, phone bank and canvass in what little time we have left. And if it's not too presumptive of me, you should too.

  • G. Karnezis (unverified)

    In 2004 I worked for Rob Brading, who's running again against Karen Minnis in District 49. I believe that government consists of "we the people," not "we the corporations" or "we the parishioners," and that candidates like Rob, who refuse to to talk about Portland as if it were New Gommorah, will help all Oregonians. I am weary of candidates like Minnis and Saxton who run against government and who see it largely as a police or highway maintainance employer rather than as a means to a better quality of life. Saxton's empty rhetoric about education is particularly offensive given the fact that his party has allowed education in Oregon to stabilize at its current level of mediocrity.

  • Sally (unverified)

    "I am weary of candidates like Minnis and Saxton who run against government and who see it largely as a police or highway maintainance employer rather than as a means to a better quality of life. Saxton's empty rhetoric about education is particularly offensive given the fact that his party has allowed education in Oregon to stabilize at its current level of mediocrity."

    Saxton's rhetoric about education ~~ and government ~~ began four years back when he was largely the first voice to bring into public view the crisis of PERS. No other state or locality faces the enormous percentage (now averaging 20 of agency budgets) of public funding resources drained off from current services.

    Reasons and court rulings aside, it remains the mastadon in Oregon's living rooms .... and on the roof and in the yard.

  • Karl Smiley (unverified)
    <h2>I'm a little upset by the number of people who say they vote because it is their "civic duty" to vote. I'm sure that most BLUE OREGON posters vote from an informed position. I worry about those who vote because they believe it is their "civic duty" and do so from an uninformed position. I had a civics teacher in high school who's biggest peeve was people who voted when they didn't understand an issue or know or have an informed opinion of the issues or the people on the ballot. They can really screw things up. I took that to heart. If I havn't had time to study an issue or find out about the candidates I leave a blank and leave it up to the people who have.</h2>

connect with blueoregon