Column: Take privilege of voting seriously

I have always looked upon voting as a privilege. I feel connected to the process — good or bad — after I give my choices.

Voting is a privilege, but it is also a right.

Though not everyone in the United States may vote — you must have reached a certain age, are mentally competent, not be in trouble with the law (individuals convicted of a felony are ineligible to vote while incarcerated, on parole, or on probation), and are an American citizen — most of us are allowed to vote.

Whether we take that right seriously is the question.

Speaking of questions, The Daily Courier asked the following of its online readers (dCourier.com) for the past two weeks: what influences your selections when voting?

We allowed respondents to make two choices from seven answers. Thankfully, the two you would hope for came out on top:

• The candidate’s experience and/or voting history. (467 votes)

• Forum speeches and answers to questions. (321 votes)

Third on the list was “background or anecdotal reasons” with 77 votes. That’s where the poll’s results begin to spiral downward.

I say that because “background” could mean party affiliation, which is coming out of left field as far as I am concerned — considering that the City of Prescott election (Aug. 29, which precipitated creation of the poll in the first place) is supposed to be non-partisan.

We have responded to many questions asking if candidates are Republicans, Democrats or independent. But they’re not, for this election. (Yet, some candidates do tout their affiliation on their ads.)

Also, background could include anything from class, race, blue/white collar, etc. Does that tell you how they will do in office? I hope not.

As for “anecdotal reasons,” to me they mean things you think about someone — without data or facts to back it up. Foul, I cry.

Yet, this is where it gets worse. Other responses in our poll that is not scientific included:

• Word of mouth on the street. (31 votes) Not much better than “anecdotal reasons,” in my book.

• TV commercials, mailers. (14 votes) Really? I think I’ve established how I feel about these — backed often by “dark money,” meaning money that supports (or opposes) a candidate for which no one can figure out where the money came from. In other words, who is behind this?

• Campaign signs. (11 votes) This actually works? I view them as trash and a distraction to my driving. And then we hear people steal them too? Come on, we’re better than this!

• Money raised/spent. (10 votes) This answer finishing last in the poll surprised me. If you’re looking for motivations or someone’s pre-election agenda, examine this list; the Courier publishes details from the filing reports, with the next one coming up soon.

That said, whether going to a polling place or filling out a mail-in ballot, doing the right thing — voting with facts and knowledge — is what this is about.

The Aug. 29 election does not include polling places; mail your completed ballot early or drop it off at the city offices downtown or at county elections on Fair Street.

Still, imagine someone getting into office based on only their name, literally; I recall an election in which a candidate died (too late to remove them from the ballot) and they had a name similar to a prior, popular politician.

The dead guy won!

That is taking our privilege — and right — to vote to a new low, like writing in “Mickey Mouse.”

To view the Courier’s elections coverage to-date, visit www.dcourier.com/news/elections. And be sure to pick up the Sunday, Aug. 20, edition of the Courier for a roundup of the candidates, the issues, and a story about how much money the city has on hand (could city officials pay off the pension debt?).

Meanwhile, folks, play fair out there.