We need a seal around every ballot or a warning on every voting machine. It should be like the seal that comes around a medicine bottle or the warning label on an electrical appliance. You must read it before use.
A ballot is the most important tool a citizen has at his or her disposal, but, when it is used incorrectly, the results can be disastrous. There should be some education involved. It is this lack of instruction that has left this country on the brink of economic collapse.
- Do I have to vote for every office or every ballot measure? No. If you are unfamiliar with the candidates for a particular office or the implications of a ballot measure, just leave those boxes blank.
The majority of voters are unsure about this. They are invested in the candidates they come to the polls to support, but they know little or nothing about the rest. However, they are afraid that if they do not check at least one box for every office, their ballot will be thrown out, so they go down the ballot and vote for any name that sounds the least bit familiar or simply check the boxes beside "incumbent." That is why most officeholders stay in office for life, no matter how poorly those officeholders perform.
- Who are my key representatives at the various levels of government? There are 16 in all:
- The U.S. government five: president, vice president, two senators and a congressional representative.
- The state government five: governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, state senator, state assemblyman or representative.
- The local government six: mayor, city councilman, school-board member, county supervisor, district attorney and sheriff.
Seriously, how can you possibly cast an intelligent vote on these offices if you don't know who the present officeholders are? We need voting machines that ask voters to identify their current representatives before they can go to the next step. For example, if a voter can only name the current governor and the mayor, those are the offices that show up on his or her ballot.
- How can I find the names of all the people who represent me? Call the office of your local registrar of voters. It's in the "County" listings in the front of the white pages of your phone book. Give the person who answers the phone your zip code. He or she will be happy to give you a list of your key representatives.
- How can I contact each one? Their offices are listed in the front of the white pages of your phone book under federal, state, county and city listings. A simple way to call your representatives in Washington, D.C., is to use the Capitol switchboard. The number is 202-224-3121. Ask for your congressional representative or your senators by name.
- Who do I hold accountable for the growing national debt? Your congressman is primarily responsible. Our Founding Fathers knew how important it was to keep a tight rein on the nation's purse strings. That's why they gave the 435 members of the House of Representatives, who are equally divided among the people, the ability to tax and spend. That is why they made them stand for re-election every other year, so we could hold them accountable.
All tax-and-spend bills must originate in the House of Representatives. Your senators and the president bear some degree of responsibility. The Senate must concur with each tax or spending measure. Then, the president can either sign or veto (send back) the bill. However, it is important to remember that, although the president can submit a budget and suggest, he does not have the power to spend one dime that is not authorized and appropriated by Congress.
Your congressman is your closest link to Washington and is the chief culprit when it comes to the national debt. Unfortunately, most voters do not even know his name.
- How can I tell if my congressman and senators are doing a good job? There are a number of good organizations that make this task easy for you. The nonpartisan National Taxpayer's Union Foundation issues a report card on the House of Representatives and the Senate each and every year. If you can read down and across, you will know instantly if your congressman and senators are "keepers" or should be replaced. However, it is important to remember that the foundation grades on the curve. With the amount of our national debt, anyone who scores less than an "A" should be dumped.