Thanks goes out to Tom, one of my loyal blog readers, for reminding me to talk about the importance of voting this fall before heading off on some far-away hunt. It’s hard to believe it but election day is only five weeks away. While this won’t apply to everyone…some sportsmen will be hundreds of miles away from their precinct on election day which makes voting in person rather difficult. Now is the time to apply for your absentee ballot to ensure there is ample time for processing your vote before you leave on the big hunting trip this fall.
Election laws vary so much from state to state it is really difficult to speak on exactly what needs to be done to request a ballot by mail. In most cases the process is rather simple…and if you haven’t done it before it’s usually not as involved as you might think. Start by contacting your local county auditor’s office. This is the person in charge of the local elections and is usually the person who needs to get the absentee ballot out to you in time for voting.
For a quick rundown of election activities, including how to request an absentee ballot for your state, contact the NRA’s voter information section and click on your state:
This will give you a state by state rundown on how you can register to vote (if you need to do that) as well as describing the process for requesting an absentee ballot.
In Minnesota, our firearms deer season and the election occur with a terrible timing conflict. Our deer season opens on Saturday, November 4th with the election only three days later. Of course, there will be lots of hunters in Northern Minnesota for the opening week of camp so it is crucial that for their vote to count to make preparations several weeks in advance of this year’s hunt.
I shouldn’t have to explain the importance of voting. As a group, if we all don’t voice our opinion at the polling booth then we loose critical influence with our elected officials. In Minnesota, as I’m sure it occurs in many other areas, as well, the sportsman’s voice can make or break elections for some candidates. This can only occur, however, if we take the time to perform our civic responsibility…by casting our vote (either on election day or in advance).
I may have mentioned this on the blog before but I can’t help but think of a situation that happened in my life about 20 years or so ago. In my rural area we have townships and this local governing body is made up of township supervisors. One year I decided to run for the job (a foolish decision, as I reflect back in hindsight) of supervisor and it was election day. I was up against an incumbent who had been on the board for many years and was popular. To make a long story short, I ended up losing the election by just one vote. I came so close to winning…but as you know in politics close isn’t quite good enough.
The next night I attended a meeting only to hear my next door neighbor comment to me “gosh, I’m sorry my wife and I didn’t get to the poll in time.” He went on to say “I hope it wasn’t a close election.” Of course, I informed him that I had lost by just one vote…and had he and his wife made it more of a priority to vote on that day I would have won by a single vote rather than losing in the manner in which I did.
Of course, I had no hard feelings about the occurrence…and I know he felt quite bad. The point I’m trying to make is we never know if the election is going to be close. And because of that we never know for sure if our vote might be the deciding factor in seeing a favored candidate win. Sportsmen have a powerful voice and most elected officials realize this…but it becomes a moot point when we don’t exercise our right to vote.
Make a point of it now to check your calendar. If you’ll be in your home area on election day and can make it to the polls…great! If not, take matters into your own hands and get the absentee ballot process moving along for yourself. Standing up and making sure your vote counts is the only sure way we can send a message to the politicians that our outdoor priorities are important. And even if your desired candidate doesn’t ultimately win…by being a participant in the process it should make you feel good about your actions.
© 2006 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction Without Prior Permission.