Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Looking into the Future of Clark County

The Commissioners race between Pam Brokaw and Tom Mielke now looks like this:

Brokaw: 84,099 49.88%
Mielke: 84,306 50.00%
Write-ins: 212 .13%

There will be a machine recount of the ballots, but unless the numbers change by 208 in Brokaw's favour, Mielke will be making decisions about Clark County, Washington come next year. This is a VERY disturbing prospect for those of us who care about the quality of life in our community. Mielke has an extremely poor record on land use issues and protecting the environment.

The sad truth is that many voters select candidates at this level based on whether they've heard the person's name before. Mielke served as a state representative for several years and ran (unsuccessfully) for the commission multiple times. Name recognition is key. Think I'm making this up? I'm not. I've spoken with many people who confess they know nothing about some candidates and their positions, but when faced with a blank to fill in, they feel compelled to make a choice. So they select the name they've heard - even if they know nothing about what that person is likely to do if elected. Remember in my previous post where I mentioned there were over 15,000 undervotes, where people didn't select anyone for the county commission position? Which is worse, voting for someone without knowing anything about them, or not even voting? I can't decide.

What I DO know is that voters have a responsibility to learn about the people who will be governing them. Don'tcha think so too?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Chasing to correct mistakes of the past

Journey back with me to a night almost three weeks ago, when we learned that the majority of Americans were ready for a big change in their leadership.

(O happy day!)

Believe it or not, the election isn't over for everyone. One local race is still too close to call. My friends and I have been busy these past couple of weeks visiting voters who forgot to sign their ballot envelopes. There are hundreds of votes that weren't counted here in Clark County because of no signature or a signature that didn't match the registration. These votes could help to decide the outcome of the race for county commissioner.

We've chased all over, tracking down folks who belong to the provisional ballots. If they signed an affidavit verifying their ballot was voted by them and it was presented to the elections office by 5 pm today, their vote will be counted.

It's an interesting process - many of the folks were extremely appreciative of our efforts. Some were so grateful that they invited us in for coffee or introduced us to family members who shook our hands and thanked us for our efforts.

Ironically, though, many of their ballots likely WON'T make a difference in this race because many probably didn't vote all the way down the ballot. They voted for President, maybe selected a Governor candidate and even a state senator and representative, but did not choose anyone in the county commission race between Pam Brokaw and Tom Mielke. When I last looked at the some of the vote totals, there were over 15,000 people who had UNDERVOTED relative to this race. It's sad, because while the other races are certainly important, county commissioners are in an extremely powerful position which determines our quality of life. Their decisions really impact how our community grows. People don't understand how local government makes such a difference.

It will still be a little while before this race is decided. There may be a recount, depending on what the numbers are after tonight. I'll post more about this soon.