Vote!

New Hampshire Challenge! In the last midterm election (2014), New Hampshire placed eighth in the rankings for election participation, which is in the top 20 percent. Even so, less than half of New Hampshire’s eligible voters went to the polls. We can do better! Everybody should vote. The New Hampshire primary is Sept. 11 and the General Election is Nov. 6.

But voting isn’t easy; it takes time and effort. We have to register, inform ourselves by researching the candidates and issues and then vote. For the picky details, a good reference is the Secretary of State’s website at sos.nh.gov.

Registration. To be eligible to vote in New Hampshire, a person must be a U.S. citizen, a resident and at least 18 years of age next Election Day. We can register at our local town or city hall, at a meeting of the Supervisors of the Checklist or at the polls on Election Day, bringing proof of qualification.

Researching candidates is tougher now that local newspapers may not do the work for us. Endorsements and editorials are biased. Campaign ads are free speech and not required to contain a word of truth. There are some internet reference sites, like ballotpedia.com, which have a ton of info about a candidate’s background, political experience, voting record, financial supporters and are rated as unbiased.

On Election Day, we must bring a photo ID, commonly a driver’s license or U.S. passport.

So voting is a bit of work. Why should anybody bother? Because voting is the only political power citizens have now. Big money powers campaigns; the promise of future funding guarantees money’s voice in government. Outside money even reaches into governor’s races and state legislatures. Campaign price tags have doubled since 2000. A run for the U.S. House of Representatives costs about $1 million, and the U.S. Senate tens of millions. A candidate for the New Hampshire Senate reported needing to raise $150,000; that’s about $3 for every man, woman and child in a New Hampshire district.

Voting power is skewed by gerrymandering. The 2020 census will trigger a new redistricting, a new gerrymandering opportunity for those in power.

Every citizen has issues they believe government should address. Perhaps campaign finance reform. Perhaps elimination of gerrymandering. The only chance citizens have to affect government policy is to elect representatives who will honestly serve their constituencies. So, vote.

If we don’t exercise our right to vote, we lose our right to gripe.