This post was written by Chuck Spencer, Director of Government Affairs. Questions about voting and political involvement can be directed to Chuck at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tomorrow primary voters in 9 states will go the polls to support their candidate for United States President and other offices. While the focus seems to be on who will become the next presidential candidate contender, we as voters should all be thinking about who is it we want in a position of leadership making decisions on business, social, financial, energy, and agricultural issues. Voters should ask themselves, "How well do I understand what they support or how they react to pressure? Have I taken the time to read, interact or talk to their campaign about issues important to me? How have I helped develop a candidate on issues important to me?"
Too often voters only follow the major political races and overlook the equally important local issues and candidates for office. Local, state and federal government levels will all be on the ballot. We in agriculture have a very important role to play in the primary and general election in November. Are agriculture and energy policies mentioned in candidates messages? Do they have a platform on agriculture and energy or a section of their website devoted to agriculture? Industry groups regularly develop fact sheets and legislative priorities but candidates for office have to hear it from a voter for the message to have lasting impact. Voters have a tremendous amount of opportunity to shape outcomes. All politics are local and the best politicians understand that if they hear a message often enough, they need to respond to it. As voters, we need to make sure we take the opportunity to call, email, and attend events where candidates for elected leadership are asked questions about their position on agricultural and energy issues and we can offer our view of what is important too. The more we are involved early in the election process the more likely a candidate for office remembers agriculture once they are in office.
It is our choice and our opportunity this election.
Chuck recommends that voters visit their County Clerk's website for a sample ballot and then familiarize themselves with the candidates and issues that will be on the ballot. For general education, visit the website of the candidate or referendum cause. The best form of preparation for an election cycle is to attend town hall meetings and engage in face-to-face dialogue with the candidates and referendum sponsors. An educated voter is an effective voter!