Election Day: Why You Should Get Out and Vote Nov. 4

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It’s Election Day. Get ready for the 2014 midterms. So do you know the candidates and issues that you’re voting for?

Since the average American lifestyle has become increasingly hectic, large numbers of registered voters may actually skip the midterm elections. Some think they’re too busy or believe they can’t make an educated vote while others view these races as not being important because a presidential contender isn’t on the ballot. Don’t use those excuses as justification for not exercising your franchise. Your voice should be heard in every national and local election.

This year’s focus has been on the Republicans’ campaign to gain full control of Congress and whether President Obama and congressional Democrats will get an even worse shellacking than in 2010. It is a sure bet that the Republicans will keep their majority in the House. If Democrats lose six Senate seats, however, it will mean that the GOP will gain both both chambers, giving congressional Republicans even more muscle to block legislation and push for repeal of the Administration’s programs while advancing its conservative agenda. Moreover,  13 governor races are too close to make a call whether a Democrat or Republican will reside in the statehouse for the next four years.

As we watch our economy slowly recover – U.S. Commerce Department reported that GDP, the broadest measure of goods and services produced across the economy, grew 3.5% in the third quarter – it is imperative we keep in mind how each candidate’s platform  would accelerate economic growth as well as address the weaknesses in business investment, housing and consumer confidence. When voting, it is important to focus on other hotly debated issues as well, including immigration reform, gay rights, Ebola, foreign policy related to ISIS, Russia and China, and the next stage of  President Obama’s healthcare plan – the Affordable Care Act.

It’s not too late to fully participate in the voting process. We suggest you review the following basic but critical items:

First , find out where you are eligible to vote. Polling locations can change from election to election. For polling areas and identification requirements, contact or visit the website of your state board of elections.

Make sure you research the position of all candidates running for office. Gain enough information so you’re confident in your knowledge about issues and platforms to make an informed decision.

Although you may be registered with a given party, check the track record of both candidates. Check out both candidates’ websites and look at their policies and beliefs on each issue. Find candidates that best addresses your concerns or connects with  your values.

Don’t vote blindly. In addition to reviewing the positions of the candidates, familiarize yourself with the range of referendum issues in which you and others vote to change state and local laws and ordinances. Among the issues that can be found on the ballot in some states for campaign 2014: gas taxes to fund transportation; increase in the minimum wage; and legalization of marijuana, among other issues. Once again, check your state and local board of elections for referendums, constitutional amendments and statewide ballot questions.

Be careful in your selection and know the rules. When engaging in the voting process, make sure that the registrar accurately reviews and detaches your information. Once in the booth, make sure you  select the right candidate on the ballot. Check that the registrar accurately detaches your information.  To guard against voter intimidation and fraud, many states have enacted laws that restrict political campaigning and voter solicitation in and around polling places. So don’t wear T-shirts, campaign buttons and other such items that promote your candidate of choice in polling areas.

Top five reasons you should exercise the right to vote:

1) One vote really does make a difference. This year’s congressional and gubernatorial races are expected to be extremely close this year – some may even result in run-offs. Remember, your vote can determine the course of legislative and executive action.

2) It’s your money. Your selection of representatives ultimately determines the allocation of resources for a range of public services, putting your tax dollars to work. Not only should you vote for the candidate you believe most effective but it is your duty to make him or her accountable once in office.

3) Voting promotes change. It is our opportunity and responsibility to make a difference in our communities, lives, and our children’s future. Our representatives play a vital role in determining the level of support for health care, college funding and small business financing, among other areas. It is their job to advocate on behalf of their constituency – including you.

4) It’s your public duty. Your franchise is your voice; it is the basic role that you play in a democratic society. For African Americans, it should hold special significance since generations have fought and died for this right that was promised and protected by the Voring Rights Act of 1965.  With voting rights under assault – a Supreme Court ruling weakened VRA last year while a number of states have instituted measures like voter i.d. laws that have made it challenging for a number of African Americans, minorities and women — it is more important than ever to exercise your franchises.

5) Voting is tied to your occupational advancement and personal wealth. The President, congressional representative and governors all influence policies and legislation related to minimum wage, fair employment practices, pay equity, health insurance and workplace safety on the national, state and local level. These issues impact your career advancement and your pocketbooks.

Voting matters.