Opinion

Make an educated vote this election year

TORRENS TALK

The ballots arrived in the mail last week. Some have already mailed theirs back. Some will wait until the very last minute to exercise their right to vote. Regardless of when one votes, it is hoped the vote is an educated one.

And, that is really the big issue — being educated about what is on the ballot. Secretary of State Sam Reed, on behalf of the state, and Kitsap County Auditor Walt Washington, on behalf of the county, send out voters’ pamphlets chock full of good information. Unless one is already knowledgeable about the issues and the candidates, it is a foolish and unwise voter who does not make use of them.

The pamphlets cover candidates, initiatives, background information on voting, political office job descriptions, registering to vote and more. They are a wealth of information about the races and issues they cover: federal and state for the state pamphlet, county and local for the county pamphlet. While it may seem like an information overload, it does provide enough to make a choice. How one makes that choice will have more to do with them than with what is written in the pamphlet.

There are three statewide initiatives on the ballot this year. The first one is I-985, Tim Eyman’s contribution to this year’s election season. Tim must really hate driving in Puget Sound as he attempts to control all aspects of roadway transportation with this one. Among a list of things, Eyman’s I-985 directs that sources of revenue that currently go to cities to go to the state (red light camera fines), that a separate account to hold these funds be used for limited items and that these items would NOT include bike paths/lanes, park and ride lots, ferries, buses, trolleys, light/heavy rail or monorail. Moreover, this is aimed at the highways along the I-5 corridor.

Apparently, the only way to answer traffic congestion is with roads and nothing else. Predictably, the ballot language lists all the “carrots”: open HOV lanes, traffic light synchronization and roadside assistance funding. The “sticks” are subsumed under the phrase “dedicate certain taxes, fines, tolls and other revenues to traffic-flow purposes.” The devil is truly in that detail. While traffic light synchronization is nice, taking ferries out of the picture when they are a marine highway just shows his narrow-minded view of the world. I-985 deserves to be stopped permanently.

The second one, I-1000, is the one that allows patients to make end-of-life choices for themselves. The proponents call it the Death with Dignity Act. The opponents call it assisted suicide. This is one that will be decided by how people feel, not think, about the issue before them.

For many people, I-1000 is a repudiation of their faith and they are adamantly against it. The opponents count the Catholic Church as one of their biggest supporters. They miss the constitutional point that they cannot force their religious beliefs on others. Raising the spectre of people being forced to end their lives to make things easier for others is a fear tactic, nothing more.

While I cannot conceive at this point in my life of ever wanting to do such a thing, I cannot conceive either of the idea that my view of how to live one’s life should be legislated for everyone. Supporting I-1000 gives the choice for people to follow what is best for them. Voting “no” dictates what they can do.

The last initiative, I-1029, is about requiring more training and certification for long-term home care workers. Here the issue is whether the additional training and certification is justified or if it is another intrusion by government. This is one where both sides clearly support the need for in-home care for elderly or disabled people but differ on how to best achieve it.

I-1029 has gotten very little exposure and that is unfortunate as it’s an area that will impact all of us at some point. People will need to decide if they would be comfortable with the current situation or do they think having someone who cares for them should meet a higher level of training and certification. Between exemptions for family members and the idea that more education is never a bad thing, I-1029 is worth support.

Regardless of what one decides, one cannot go wrong using the tools provided by our government to let us be educated voters. As I stated above, more education is never a bad thing. Read, think, vote — we will all be better for it.

Val Torrens covers local issues for the CK Reporter and North Kitsap Herald.

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