Vote Smart – Mark Your Ballot

So, while Election Day is still a few weeks off, I’m already getting questions from people about “Mark Your Ballot,” the column that I run on the last day to vote. I’m honored that I have earned that amount of pubic trust, and that my decade-plus of covering local politics makes my voice one that people feel is worth listening to. I will give you my honest reflection. 

For myself, I still like to go to the polls and vote on Election Day, but I confess I’m one of those people who loves a ritual. I love to vote on the first Tuesday in November for many of the same reasons I love parades. I navigate by landmarks – something that is more and more challenging to do in a constantly changing world. 

So, adapting to the times, I’ll be dropping a few pieces of “Mark Your Ballot” on the early side.

In the past, I’ve felt very strongly that the people who vote early are people who already know what they want. I’d bet money there are a thousand Culver City voters who knew who they were voting for as soon as the candidates declared. These folks do not need or want any ballot guidance. The old joke – my mind is made up, don’t confuse me with facts – settles right in as a template. 

That’s not wrong; if your next door neighbor/church volunteer/ poker buddy is running for office and you wouldn’t consider voting for anyone else, do it. 

But with the political climate all over the country still on red alert, people who are only voting for their neighbors and buddies still need to interact with people who are voting for democracy, and the health of the climate, and women’s rights. Not one of these things can be taken for granted. 

A few local measures – Yes on BL, No on YV. 

Why? Measure BL, the business license tax, needs to pass. We have not raised this tax since the 1960’s and it’s WAAAY past time. Any outcry the businesses can’t afford this is nonsense. I am a small business owner (I have two, in fact.) Raising the tax will mean that many businesses are simply excused, and those who have been paying in pennies will now have to pay in dimes. Maybe quarters. Vote yes. 

No on YV, and perhaps you are surprised, but this is just about logistics. IF we were still holding municipal elections in April, I’d be a yes vote here. But allowing 16 & 17 year olds to vote only in municipal contests during a general election means they would have to have a separate ballot. That is procedurally awkward, expensive, and simply unneeded. 

When my children turned 18, they did not have a voter registration form waiting for them at breakfast, but it probably happened before lunch. I want everyone to vote, and 18 – 25 is a vital demographic. If you are not yet 18, volunteer to canvass, phone bank, text, go to marches and protests, do everything you can do. But having a separate ballot does not make sense to me. Y’know – separate is not equal.

California had Prop. 18 on the ballot in 2020, which would have given 17 year olds the right to vote in primary elections. It lost. If we had a proposal to make 16 year olds full on, federal voters – I’d probably go for that. But voting is an all-in franchise. Partial voting is not a workable idea. 

I’ll be publishing more endorsements and recommendations leading up to the election, and of course, I’ll post “Mark Your Ballot” in full on Election Day (because, ritual, it’s a thing.) Again, I’m honored that so many people feel comfortable asking for my thoughts. I respect your trust, and I thank you for trusting my respect. 

Vote Smart; we’ve got a lot riding on this one. 

Judith Martin-Straw

The Actors' Gang

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