Do Your Homework: Vote for Strong Leaders Based on Personal Knowledge

25 Oct

By Dawn Mays

How do I pick who to vote for??
Do elections really make a difference?? Will my vote even make any difference??
My spouse and I “cancel” each other out so why should we vote?

As early voting has begun in many parts of the country, and we have begun to cast our ballots in what so many have called the election of our lifetime, I have heard these statements from friends and family.

As I think about how the Leadership Voices project is challenging the traditional mantra of a “father knows best” style of leader, when choosing a candidate the question remains: “So how do we do it??”

How do we put our vote where our mouth is?

Well, this year let’s try the following:

1. HOMEWORK – Read and research credible sources on state and local races:

Taking the time to read and research local races and issues is critical. We may have information overload from the federal races but for local and state races it takes a little work to find out.

Check all candidate websites, look for issue or candidate guides from credible nonpartisan sources (or at least a variety of sources if you are not sure), and read/watch news reports for position statements and voting history.

Do not trust only the opinions of your friends, relatives and co-workers who claim to have done the research. Do it yourself.

Make sure this first line of leadership, often more influential on daily life, meets your personal criteria. The city council often decides how many firetrucks answer your 911 call; school boards decide what happens in local schools and state legislators make the laws for everything from the cost of a traffic ticket to the direction your state takes on big social issues.

Local and state elections are also the training and proving ground for those who later seek office in federal elections. If we want a different style of leader, we must start with local races.

If we pay attention while a candidate is a local and state leader, we will also have a better idea what to expect when their sights move on to higher office.

**While we are advocating for a strong mother leadership style, I DO NOT suggest voting for a woman just because she is a woman. Leadership style and positions are what matter. Choose on platform, style and comparison to the other candidates.

2. SHARE YOUR KNOWLEDGE – Talk about voting and candidates:

Many of my friends and family only vote in Presidential elections. They undervote – meaning they vote only for president and leave the rest of the ballot empty. This is a serious mistake.

Once you have done your research, share your knowledge on how you did it so others can do their own.

Many of us have been raised to avoid discussing politics and religion because it makes people uncomfortable. I have found that if I discuss politics, policies, candidates and elections in non-emotion driven ways, most everyone is receptive. It is the overly emotional rhetoric that is linked to negative voter turnout.

If we want to encourage leaders who are civil with members of the opposite party, believe in bipartisanship and make decisions based on all the facts – we must do what we ask of them and serve as role models.

3. SHOW UP – Participate in voting:

I am going to “early vote” this election. It will be easier than voting on election day because of my schedule and will make it easier for others who will benefit from shorter Election Day lines.

Early voting varies across the country, as does absentee voting, but no matter what: vote.

As local elections are the training ground for those who seek higher office, they are also the ones where one vote can make a real difference. I have seen local elections were 2 votes won a race!

So, I encourage each of you to do your homework, respectfully share your research and sources, and show up!

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