Friday, May 20, 2011

Primary Error

I missed the election. That's right people, yours truly, political junky and all, didn't vote.

I was coming back from Delaware on May 17th, the day of the Pennsylvania Primary. I originally expected to be back in the state by 6:30pm, giving me time before the polls closed at 8:00pm. Then again, it was going to be close.

I considered filling out an absentee ballot weeks ahead of time, so that I could vote early and not worry about the close timing, but I ran into a complication: Where would I mail the absentee ballot? If I'm in PA during the election, I'm legally required to rip up the ballot and vote in person. So surely they won't be willing to mail it to a PA address. I couldn't very well mail it to Massachusetts; by the time the government got around to mailing it, I'd be long gone. I suppose I could have sent it to Delaware, but by the time I mailed it back, the polls would have closed. Quite a predicament.

As it turned out, I didn't leave the First State until after 7:00pm, and I missed my opportunity altogether. As a registered Democrat in the commonwealth, I am only eligible to vote in Democratic Primary elections. This put me in a position to research and vote for candidates seeking for the Judge of the Commonwealth Court and the Judge of the Court of Common Pleas.

Even without my votes, I can happily report that both of my picks won the primaries. Of course, they'll have to beat the Republicans next. Interestingly enough, the runner-up for Common Pleas position cross-registered as a Republican, winning the primary on that side. That should make things interesting in the fall.

The great thing about primary elections is that your vote actually matters most during them. Think about it: in the general presidential election, over 100 million Americans vote. In your state there aren't 100 million people, let alone voters. And since many voters skip the primaries, there's a pretty small pool. We're talking about candidates winning with a few thousand votes. The differences between them? As close as a handful of voters. In the 17th District, for example, Republican Michael T. Hudock beat Republican Martin R. Wilson by 21 votes. If 11 people who voted for him changed their minds, the other man would be the candidate. Incredible.

Beyond that, who are we electing? People like judges, people who will hear cases when you get sued, or perhaps sue someone else. This actually affects you, and you actually have a say. You should never miss a primary. Oops.

That's okay, I'll make it up to society with my internship at the Pennsylvanians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty this summer.

For those of you who don't "get" politics, think of it like sports, only it's more important when someone wins. For those of you who don't get politics or sports, I'd be happy to explain the former. For those of you who don't "like" politics, please stop driving on government-funded roads, applying for federal grants, or enjoying your constitutional civil liberties until you change your mind.

Just kidding; free country, you're actually allowed not to care what happens to it. You have that right.

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