Talk about heresy: An article in the november 2012 issue of Reason Magazine is titled "your vote doesn't count: why (almost) everyone should stay home on election day."
It points out that one vote has never swayed a national election and that most people who vote really don't understand the issues.
I'll grant them point one, particularly in relation to the national elections. The odds of any single vote making a real difference are pretty astronomical. But you could (and many do) say the same thing about getting vaccinated. The chances of catching polio nowadays is miniscule, but only because most people have consented to undergo the needle and by sheer numbers create a protective hedge against the disease. Widespread voting may not steer the ship of state, but it reminds the captain that we're watching the horizon.
As for point two, well, I may have to grant them that one as well, but here the equation is flipped. The national races are so loudly fought in the media that to not at least have an idea about the candidates and what the issues and their implications are, you'd have to have your head in the ground. On the local level, where the power of your vote is magnified exponentially over, say, a Presidential election, the problem is that you may very well not even know who is on the ballot.
They say that New Hampshire's Legislature is so big (424 members) that just about every person in the state either lives next door to a member or is related to one. That's a bit of an overstatement, since if you ask a dozen people to name their State Representatives or even their State Senator you're likely to get 12 puzzled stares.
Interest in this month's election is high in New Hampshire, not only because of the sound and fury around the contentious Presidential race, but also because our local legislature has been in the "news" so often of late for some of the statements and bills that have made it to floor at the Statehouse. And by "news" I mean such unofficial but closely watched outlets as Gawker.com, "The Colbert Report" and Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show" (see video clip links below).
Anyway, with NH's own former Supreme Court Justice David Souter out stumping for better civics education, we decided it was time to do our part. Our feature story "Everything You Wanted to Know About Your State Legislature But Were Afraid to Ask" should serve as both an overview and an entry point for anyone who wants to be better informed about the goings-on in our iconic and historic State Capital.
And if all you get out of it is a commitment to learn who your representatives are BEFORE you enter the polls, our work will be done.
"Cobert Report" on the proposal to include a direct quote from the Magna Carta in all new legislation. He starts in on the proposal at about the 1:28 mark.
Rep. Kyle Jones wants to repeal labor lunch break laws on the "Colbert Report." Colbert starts talking about Jones around the 2:28 mark.