Election season is always exciting for journalists.
There are candidate forums to attend, passionate people to interview about ballot measures, extra letters to the editor and of course, the age-old tradition of newsroom pizza on election night, which is pretty much the Super Bowl of politics.
We understand there are plenty of people out there who don’t feel as fascinated by county commission races as we do, but we hope there is something this election season that piques your interest. Maybe you’re passionate about abortion access and want to follow Measure 106, which if passed would ban the state from using taxpayer money to fund abortions. Or maybe you really, really hate taxes and want to learn more about Measure 103, which would amend the state’s constitution to ban all taxes on groceries.
Maybe an endless flow of news stories on the Trump administration and Kavanaugh hearings has made you throw up your hands and say “I’m sick of politics! No more.” That’s an understandable feeling, and there is nothing wrong with pulling back from the breathless, 24/7 updates to protect your mental health.
That being said, we hope that you take some time between now and Nov. 6 to educate yourself about the people and issues on your ballot and then vote. Voting is a precious gift, a right every bit as important as the right to free speech and the right to bear arms. It is a right people have died for throughout history, from the soldier protecting democracy to the 31 people killed by a bomb at a polling place in Pakistan this summer.
You may feel your vote doesn’t matter, but anyone in the political arena will tell you that elections are decided as much by who doesn’t turn out as they are by the choice of actual voters. Local city council races have come down to less than 10 votes on many occasions, and city councilors can have a major impact on your life. These are the people who decide what your water rates will be, whether the pothole in front of your house should be fixed and what businesses are allowed to operate in your neighborhood.
If you aren’t registered to vote, you have until Oct. 16 to do so. It’s free, it’s easy and you can do it on the Secretary of State’s website from the comfort of your own home.
We plan to make next week’s Hermiston Herald a special election edition, with stories discussing local candidates, statewide ballot measures and more. Our sister paper the East Oregonian has been providing in-depth coverage and will continue to do so. We hope you read what we have to offer and look forward to participating in democracy come November.
Jade McDowell is a reporter for the Hermiston Herald.