All of us want to have influence, and the general election coming up on Nov. 8, is a prime opportunity to make our voices heard and help others do to the same. As American citizens, we are blessed with a form of government that allows us to take a hands-on approach to the making of the laws that govern us—and voting is a key way to exercise our citizenship.
So, what are some investments that will yield an influential outcome?
First, consider the importance of state legislative races in your ballot. The lion’s share of legislative activity is accomplished not in the U.S. Congress, but at the state level. In fact, according to the Congressional Quarterly, state legislatures were almost 17 times more productive than their federal counterparts, enacting more than 29,000 measures in the 2015-16 session, compared to about 200 in Washington, D.C.
Remember that your vote can make a big difference when it comes to state ballot measures. This year, approximately 150 to 200 important state or local measures will be placed directly in voters’ hands to decide on the ballot. Among those will be a record number of measures to legalize marijuana: Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada will all be considering whether to legalize it for recreational use, while Arkansas and Florida will be considering whether to allow it for medical purposes.
Four states—Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington—already have legalized recreational marijuana—and the impact has been severe, both economically and socially, with an increase in crime, homelessness and drug use by youth coupled with a shortfall of promised tax revenue.
Meanwhile, Colorado is one of several states where bills to legalize doctor-assisted suicide failed in the last legislative session. So assisted-suicide advocates are taking the issue into their own hands and will likely have a measure on the ballot for voter approval. At press time, the Colorado Secretary of State had just qualified a measure for the ballot submitted by the euthanasia advocacy group Compassion & Choices. The measure, Proposition 106, is misleading and dangerous to all Coloradans.
You can also invest in the next generation’s civic engagement with a new tool created by this ministry, called “Your Family’s Election Activity Kit.” This easy-to-use complimentary resource is designed to prepare every member of the family to be the best of citizens. It’s never too early to begin impressing the value of good citizenship in the hearts and minds of children. From toddlers to teenagers, this tool provides teachable concepts and activities to prepare the next generation of voters.
The kit is available through Focus’ special election website, Commit2Vote2016.com, where you will also find materials aimed at helping you become a registered, informed and engaged voter. If you (or someone you know) are looking for reasons to vote in November, Commit2Vote2016.com provides several resources to make that case.
For More Information: Visit commit2vote2016.com.
Originally published in the October 2016 issue of Citizen magazine.