Is there a class for voting? No but there is a Pocket Guide to Voting in the Natural State published by the Arkansas Secretary of State, Elections Division. Why would you want this and where would you get one?

The why would you want one is because it answers questions concerning voter registration, casting your ballot, voting at the polls, absentee voting and lists all the county clerks of Arkansas. Again why? Because your vote counts! If you don’t believe that then look at our local elections where one candidate wins over another one by a mere five or six votes or less. Where can you get a pocket guide? You can get a pocket guide at your county clerk’s office or the one I have I got from the local library. Do you need a guide? No, it’s a helpful tool, but better yet, call or visit your local county clerk and ask your questions.

Okay now you are a registered voter, now what?

Most importantly, get out and vote - but just as important, know who and what you are voting for.

I know, I know, most people get pretty riled up about government, national, state and local levels and think that their vote doesn’t really count anyway. Or maybe they are just fed up. Their candidate said one thing during the election and did another thing once they were in office, typical politics right?

Maybe right, maybe not, have you been in their shoes, do you know both sides of the story or the reason behind their actions? Maybe politics just doesn’t interest you, you don’t want to get involved.

“Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you,” Pericles. Local, state and national government make the rules and laws that we have to live by. When you don’t take an interest you lose the right to have any say in the things that govern many aspects of your life and your children’s lives. Voter turnout is the lowest for school elections, why? Don’t we care about the people who look after our children and serve on the school board? Voting is exercising your right to have your voice heard. The best we can do is make an educated decision, vote and hope it all turns out for the best in the end or until the next election and we try again. The key here is that we voted, we made our voice heard.

How can we make sure that we are making the right choice? There aren’t any guarantees in life but an educated vote is better than a vote just because I liked their last name, or I only vote for my party, or I’m voting for just the women this year. Over the years I have heard some pretty silly reasons why someone makes the choice that they do to vote for one candidate over the other I actually had one woman tell me she would vote for me just because I was the first one to hand her a button and ask for her vote. The button I handed her only said my name and my position, how did she know what I stood for, what I wanted to do if elected or how I would represent the people I would be serving?

When applying for a job you are required to fill out an application right? Shouldn’t our candidates do the same, or should we just vote based on popularity of an individual? This of course is your choice, but especially in our local races we have several opportunities to “Meet and Greet” our candidates and based on the information they share with us we can make an educated decision on who we will be voting for. Many candidates hand out what we call push cards, which is their equivalent of a job application. If you have certain issues that concern you, these events are just the venues to ask them questions and based on their responses help you in your decision. Many times we have the opportunity to meet state candidates at these local events and being in a state race candidates have a much larger area to cover to meet the voters so it’s especially important to take advantage of those opportunities when they come here locally because they may not be back before election day. State candidates have to use other sources of media to get out their application so to speak and convince you that they are the right person for the job. Our local candidates are our neighbors and we have a better shot at making an educated vote by getting to know them.

During last weeks “Meet and Greet” at the Choctaw VFW, I heard several of our candidates introduce themselves and, in effect, “interview” for their position by listing their qualifications, share some of their thoughts and insights to what they wanted to accomplish if elected, and answer some questions. Attendance was good but should have been better.

In the Sheriff’s race do you know who wants to promote more neighborhood watches, think our officers are unpaid, want to work hard on the fight against drugs in our community, wants to establish zones with our officers for a quicker response time, wants to trim the fat in the budget to hire more officers, thinks that the handcuffs should be taken off our deputies and put on the criminals and who wants to restructure the sheriff’s department to include a designated drug agent and apply for grants for more drug dogs?

In the county judges race do you know which candidate has an extensive plan for our county roads and economic development, who promises a balance budget, or which candidate supports renting, or buying certain large equipment and why?

Which candidate for Assessor has the most experience and do you know what the Assessor does?

How about the candidates for County Treasurer, what qualifies them to be a good treasurer and what do you expect from them?

Do you know the responsibilities of the County Coroner and which candidate is best suited based on their qualifications for the job? Have you met any of the state candidates? What do you know about our state candidates?

Big question here, did you know that the following county officials are being elected to a four year term in November 2018 instead of the two year term that we have voted on in the past? County Judges, Clerks, Circuit Clerks, Surveyors, Assessors, Coroners, Sheriff’s, Tax Collectors and Treasurers will be elected to a four year term this November. Don’t you think it’s worth your time to get to know the people that will be representing you for the next four years? You can contact Pam Bradford at the County Clerk’s office for a list of political events where you can have your opportunity to meet your candidates, ask questions, help you make an educated vote on who will be representing our county in the new year.

“Bad officials are elected by good citizens who don’t vote,” George Jean Nathan.