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The voters get what they deserve
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My record is ruined.

Until Tuesday, I had voted in each and every election since registering to vote in 1980. I voted in all elections, big and small. Tuesday was the first time I failed to vote in an election.

I suppose I had a good excuse, really. Voting got shelved as a priority since my wife has been diagnosed with leukemia. I intended to mark my absentee ballot and send it in but the paper got lost in my car. It seems my car has doubled as my mobile office, closet and dressing room due to frequent hospital visits.

But it's bothered me that I didn't vote last week. Especially after one candidate for the local irrigation district board personally called me and spoke to me for several minutes about his views on power issues. The least I could have done is vote.

Countywide, voter turn-out was a dismal 22.06 percent. Having not voted this time, I feel somewhat disqualified to say this but I am ashamed at that number. Maybe the shock value is better expressed by saying that 77.9 percent of those who registered to vote didn't give a hoot. Over three out of four were invited to an electoral party but "stayed home."

Indeed, I was rather disappointed to see a piece of paper make its way to my desk that indicated that Ceres City Council hopeful Daniel Padilla had only voted three times in the past 21 elections prior to last week's election.

If you will recall, the whole matter of candidates being too apathetic to vote also haunted gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman. It is rather troubling to reconcile why someone who wishes to represent people would not hold voting as a prized exercise.

A friend and I had a conversation recently about the topic of voting. The conversation went something like this: "Why vote? I'm too busy trying to make a living. Nothing is going to change no matter who gets elected to office."

I don't agree with that. I think voting is a part of life. So is staying on top of the issues. Politics matters. I think it's important to vote. If you think about it, the reason every man and woman who has died in defense of our country did so we can have the right of self determination. We don't want to be like nations like China where they don't vote so why do we act as though we have no voice? We, as a people, hire and fire. They don't run the show, we do!

But just voting isn't enough. One needs to take time to be informed before one goes into the voting booth. One female voter called me up on election day, wanting to know what I knew about the Ceres Unified School board race and asked me who I would vote for. She apparently didn't read the views of the candidates printed in the Courier.

I have no doubt that Mike Kline won the Ceres City Council race because of his campaign theme of "Hire Ceres First." I can understand how that resonated with an electorate concerned about jobs but frankly it was an empty-headed promise. You can ask businesses and contractors all you want to hire Ceres residents first but it's not something you can legally force nor expect to happen. For example, do voters really expect a paving contractor, hired by the city, to hire Ceres residents to pave Ceres streets when they already have a crew in place that lives in Ripon, Modesto, Turlock, Oakdale and Stockton? Kline's pie-in-the-sky campaign theme was meaningless, but it worked.

Voters need to think. They need to analyze. Voting is not for the faint of heart.

Next year we face not only a choice of president but undoubtedly a slew of ballot propositions. It does require some time to wade through the pros and cons of a Voter Handbook. I usually start by looking at who is supporting what as a clue as to what the agenda is. I then read the pro argument and con arguments. But it's necessary work for an intelligent decision.

Moreover, I think it's imperative that voters examine their core values and stick to them. For example, if you feel government should be limited, support candidates who believe in limited government and have a proven track record of doing so. If you think we're taxed too much, support those who have voted against tax increases.

Consequences have actions. So do the outcomes of elections.

My friend who doesn't feel voting matters is also wondering why the economy is so bad. I believe it's because we, as a nation and a state, have failed to bear down and do our homework on the candidates - and propositions for that matter - and have elected a rotten bunch of amateurs who have overspent, bungled, over-regulated, mismanaged and overtaxed.

Quite frankly, the people have what they deserve.