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Posner: There are no good excuses

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By Steve Posner

Ballots were mailed out on Monday. When yours arrives, it will be the most important piece of mail in your mailbox.

This year’s midterm election carries enormous political stakes. But the vast majority of eligible voters will likely ignore their ballots and not bother to vote. Voter turnout in the 2014 midterms was the lowest since the Census Bureau first began tracking it in 1978. And only 23.1 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds voted.

Of course, you plan to vote. But how about your neighbor? Your millennial son or daughter? What are their excuses for not voting? And how can we respond?

• “I didn’t know it was Election Day.” Seriously? Have you opened a newspaper, turned on the TV, looked at something other than memes on social media in the past several months? Don’t take our democracy for granted. It is precious, it is in peril, and it needs your help.

• “I don’t know how to vote.” You have a mail-in ballot on your kitchen table. Fill it out, sign and seal the envelope, stick a stamp on it, and take it to the post office. Or drop it off at one of the drop locations (find one at www.jeffco.us/DocumentCenter/View/511/Ballot-Drop-Off-Locations-PDF?bidId=). Still want to vote in person? In-person voting begins in Colorado on Oct. 22. Find your polling place at www.justvotecolorado.org.

• “But I have no way of getting to the polls.” Lyft is offering 50 percent rides to the polls and free rides to underserved communities. Uber is offering free rides to polling stations on Election Day, as well as an in-app feature that lets riders know where to cast their votes. Or, call one of the campaigns and ask for a ride.

• “My vote doesn’t matter anyway.” Wrong! The 2016 presidential election tilted to Donald Trump with fewer than 80,000 votes across three states. In this area, House District 25 went to the Republican victor by a margin of 3.66 percent of the vote, a mere 1,851 votes. Trust me, it matters.

• “My ballot never came in the mail.” Figure out why. Did you move and forget to change your voting address? Did something go askew with your registration? According to a Pew Research Center study, 2.5 percent of us didn’t vote in 2014 because of “registration problems.” Don’t be one of those people. Find out the reason now by contacting the Jeffco Clerk & Recorder at 303/271-8111. Or manage your registration at www.sos.state.co.us/voter/pages/pub/olvr/findVoterReg.xhtml.

• “By not voting, I’m making a statement.” No one’s listening to your non-vote. It’s not a statement. It’s a waste of your most important right as a citizen.

• “I don’t know who to vote for.” Read a newspaper. Watch TV. Check the internet. Think about what matters to you. Do you care about the rule of law and the principles of democracy? Do you care about the environment and our planet? How about women’s rights? Consumer rights? Civil rights? Family separations? Were you incensed that Kavanaugh was confirmed after a sham FBI investigation? Are you angry that Trump, himself an admitted sexual molester, mocked victims of abuse? Are you frustrated that Congress is failing to act as a check on the presidency as a separate and co-equal branch of government? Then find and support the candidates who believe as you do , and vote to fire those who have put power over principle and sold you out.

• “My candidate lost the primary, and I don’t give a hoot about the guy/gal who’s now running.” Just think about all the Bernie supporters who refused to vote for Hillary. Let’s learn from our mistakes.

• “I’ll vote for governor, but that’s it.” Why? The down-the-ballot offices have a tremendous influence on your day-to-day life. Learn about the candidates. If all else fails, vote party line down-ballot for the party that represents your values and principles.

• “All politicians are crooks.” Yeah, some of them are. But the vast majority are people like you and me who are trying to do the right thing. It’s like any other profession: There will be good guys and there will be bad guys. Just find the good guys (and good women!).

• “I’m too busy.” No, you’re not. In 2014, 29 percent of non-voters gave this excuse. Nonsense! You have a mail-in ballot. It doesn’t take long.

Trump has never enjoyed majority support in this country. He won the presidency with only 46.2 percent of the popular vote. But many of the Americans who oppose him and today’s Republican agenda didn’t vote in 2016. Let’s change that. Vote today, before your ballot gets buried under all the papers on your kitchen counter.

The practical deadline to put your completed ballot in the mail is Monday, Oct. 29. After that date, you should vote in person or drop your completed ballot in a dropbox. And encourage turnout with your family and friends. Instead of saying “hi” when you run into someone you know at King Soopers or the post office, ask, “Did you vote yet?” If you get an excuse, remember: There are no good excuses.

Steve Posner is a retired attorney and MBA who devoted more than 20 years to litigation and appeals, with a special interest in intellectual property and business cases. Since 2006, he has written and updated the LexisNexis legal treatise, “Modern Privacy and Surveillance Law,” deeply grounding him in our constitutional tradition. In his earlier days, he worked as a freelance journalist, vice president at a Madison Avenue ad agency, database interface designer, and studio guitarist. He is a member of the Steering Group of the Colorado Foothills Action Alliance, an activist group in the foothills. He can be reached via e-mail at scp@posnerlaw.com.