It’s that time again: Even if you’re not much into politics, the start of the presidential debates on Wednesday means that we’re in the final approach to this years general election. A few people from Free the Planet, ESW, and the Sierra Student Coalition (and anyone else who wants to join in) are going to be putting together some voter education events – non-partisan introductions to issues and candidates, and so you’ll be seeing some posts on this site about both the events and the information.
To start, it’s the last week to register to vote in PA – so if you haven’t done that yet, go here and print out a form or walk around campus and talk to one of the many bright-eyed students who are happy to mail in the form for you. Why should you register to vote?
- Because if you don’t, you can’t vote – regardless of whether you decide you want to in a month
- Because voting is statistically disheartening but vitally important – and the statistics get better for local elections
- Because there are lots of people on the ballot beyond the president (see below for details), many of whom have more direct effects on your life than the president.
- Because if you don’t like either of the two major parties, the worst thing you can do about it is gripe and not vote. Please, register to vote and vote for a third party – it gives them a lot more legitimacy and stresses the status quo, and without some stress, the system won’t change. This should be emphasized several more times for people that normally just don’t vote – these people (particularly non-presidential candidates) do make decisions that affect you locally (funding for local projects, state policy, etc.), and you get a free vote for a three or four or N party system.
After a bunch of searching, I finally found a useful website for this! If you go to SmartVoter.org (run by the League of Women Voters), you can put in your address and it will give you your ballot! It turns out that judges and county/city-level elections are in odd years (next year Pgh’s Mayor is up, and that will be super important), but this year we’re electing state senators and representatives, national representatives, and one of our PA Senators, Bob Casey. Also up for election in PA are the Attorney General, Auditor General, and State Treasurer – contested and important races (anything statewide is probably more interesting than anything locally, which tends to run very Democratic). Also, the President is up for re-election, if that’s your thing.
We’ll be pulling together information on these candidates’ positions on several areas – energy, education, healthcare, and economy all come to mind. Look forward to more posts on the subject, and let us know if there’s something in particular you want to see (or help with!).