Published Feb. 5, 2020
There has been the usual hand-wringing and frustrated commentary around this new debacle called impeachment. More dirty laundry was aired but the needle relative to changed attitudes about the president didn’t move much.
In the aftermath, one point that has been battered from pillar to post is the demise of the principle of “checks and balances” in our government. Basic Government and Civics 101 says the three branches of government (executive, legislative and judicial) with their separate powers will act as checks on each other and that will balance things out. Well, so much for that in this hyper-political and partisan climate.
Even though most have thrown up their hands in disgust relative to the demise of this principle, it still exists and is operational in the most fundamental way in a democracy. The ultimate check on our government and how we achieve some sense of policy balance is through the electoral process.
The PEOPLE can check their government by voting. I know this may sound Pollyannaish and naive to some, but it’s all we’ve got. It’s also more than many have in other countries. It’s just a matter of using this power or not.
In less than a month we’ll have an opportunity to exercise this power. Yes, there is a primary election on March 3 but with the recent changes in voting procedures in Los Angeles County how to vote has changed. In 2016 the Voter’s Choice Act changed how some counties in the State will vote (eventually all will be phased in). These changes have been instituted to make it more convenient to vote, to increase voter turn-out and reduce cost. That’s the hope anyway.
Specifically, the changes are using voter centers instead of neighborhood polling places (you can use any center anywhere in the county), you can start voting 11 days before Election Day (note: some voter centers will be open 11 days before the March 3 election and others four days – check to see which is which) and in the 2024 election every registered voter will get a ballot in the mail (VBM-vote by mail).
I highly recommend voting by mail. If not already self-designated as a permanent VBM voter, you have to apply for a “mail-in” ballot (go to L.A. County Registrar of Voters Office webpage to apply) for this 2020 election, but as I said it will be automatic come 2024.
The other reason I recommend it is the voter centers will be using new technology for voting. Also, most all elections, national, state and local, have been aligned on the same day and the ballot is going to be humongous. So wading through it, using unfamiliar technology and with folks waiting for you to finish, you might feel pressured and anxious.
Whereas, sitting at the kitchen table with all your reference material laid out and a cup of hoji-cha available for constitutional support, you’ll be able to take on this responsibility in relative comfort and with enough time to give it the attention it truly deserves. Also, if there are non-voters, especially those underage, watching you they will get the message of its importance and that it will be their responsibility soon enough.
I know in this age of “real time” and fast everything, taking your time to do a mundane thing like voting is counter-intuitive. But if this president and his tenure have taught us anything, how we live and what our future holds are greatly affected by who we vote into office and what policies they enact.
For the activists in the community, vote with the passion that you demonstrate with. For the angry and haters, express your views at the ballot box instead of on Twitter, for the silent majority quietly vote in the comfort of your home, and for the rest of us post a selfie on your Facebook page, not of your latest meal but you standing with a completed ballot in hand at your mailbox or at one of the voter centers.
Warren Furutani is a former member of the State Assembly and served on the Los Angeles Unified School District and Los Angeles Community College District boards. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.