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THE 2014 VOTE: Motivation by Guilt Is Rarely Life-Changing or Effective

It's election time in our nation. Every two years (and in local communities, often more than that) it's time for the registered electorate to exercise their right to vote for those who will respresent the public in office.

In our state, the primary election is that for Governor. As of today, after some pretty lousy debates and the typical fare of negative advertising, the two front-runners (Governor Rick Scott and former Governor Charlie Crist) are in a dead-heat with virtually the same polling numbers.  There are also elections for Congress throughout our state. These are vital as we select those who will represent the people in Washington DC. There are also votes for representation in Tallahassee for our districts. 

There are local elections that drive most of the electorate in my community. This year the focus is on the county school board seats. Once again, it is another less than positive campaign.

In order to do whatever it takes to get people to vote, phone calls are made, mailboxes are full of flyers and promotional material, sign wavers stand on every major intersection and a proliferation of colorful signs have cropped up throughout the region. 

Ultimately, people around here are strongly evangelistic about their politics. If only the Christ-followers were as adament, but that's a posting for another day.

Still, it seems that many will not participate in the voting process this year. This is not news. It is this way at every election.

However, there are groups that now use guilt and public shaming as their motivational tactic to "get out the vote." This has happened in the past, but this year the guilt card arrived in the mail.

Yesterday, my daughter (21 years old) received a card in the mail that stated "Don't Throw Away Your Vote." I get it and actually agree. If you're registered (which, if you're of age, you should be) don't miss the opportunity to vote and let your voice be heard. As we know in Florida. . .every vote counts. Remember "hanging chads?"

Vote

The odd thing about this mailer was the wording at the bottom on the front. It says "Your neighbors will know."

On the back, there's a listing of those registered voters in our household, as well as our neighbors on either side and down the road. By each name is a designation showing the voting record of each listed. Now, a listing of who we voted for is not listed, but the fact that we voted is there. Under 2014 are blanks signifying that no one has voted this year (which, isn't true since we voted in the primary and just participated in early voting for this election) with the clear statement that if you do not vote, your neighbors will know and look down upon you.

That may be true, but it's a strange mailer.

This flyer comes from an organization called "Citizens for a Better Florida" and perhaps it will work, but motivation by guilt is rarely life changing or effective.

I know this is the case based on comments from young adults I talk with who are registered to vote, but are telling me they probably will not. There are various reasons why people do not vote. In the case of some of these millenials, they tell me that they just do not see that it matters. They state that those running for office are not likeable and are basically the same people (which makes those in the Republican and Democrat camps cringe.) These young adults are jaded and frustrated and want to make a difference, but often do not see the purpose of participating.

Then, when a guilt-trip is thrown at them, they push back even further.

Now, not every young adult is abandoning the vote. My daughter and many others have voted in the past and will fulfill their civic duty. Yet, people of all ages and generations find themselves perplexed as to how to vote, frustrated over those who serve now and are cynical about anything being different in the future.

To those friends, I ask you to not abandon your right. It is a duty. It is a right. More than that, it is an honor and privilege. 

With early voting sites open in many areas every day, the stress of making it to the polls on Tuesday is eliminated for the most part. 

DOES YOUR VOTE MATTER?

Yes! It matters. It should matter to you, if no one else. It matters that those with the rights and privileges to vote exercise those rights. Why? Various reasons, but ultimately because of the responsibility allotted through our nation's Constitution and the privilege to participate in the process.

I don't think voting to avoid embarrassment because your neighbors received a postcard is a good reason, so forget that. Vote because you can.

DOES IT MATTER HOW YOU VOTE?

Yes! Individuals, political parties, judge retention, amendment options, etc. are all impactful to the citizenship of our county, state and nation. When it comes to values, the battle between parties and individuals rage, as it always has. 

Vote your values. Know your values. Seek to elect men and women who reflect those. Study the details of proposed amendments. Receive insight from those who are older, wiser and understand the intricacies of the wordings of such. When it comes to judges and others with little information available, do your best to discover information about them, perhaps their community involvement? Google their names and if taken to a reputable website, use that information in your preparation.

Finally, and most important, PRAY before you vote. You are not just voting your preference. You are not just voting your party. You are voting not only as a citizen of this nation, but ultimately, if you are a Christ-follower, as a citizen of the Kingdom of God. Trust Him. He will lead you to vote well. Rest assured, it is my conviction that He will lead you to vote, so don't abdicate that privilege.

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