I Won’t be Straight Party-Line Voting: and You Shouldn’t Either

October 19, 2018Erica Pangburn, Director of Community Engagement

With the midterm elections fast approaching, everyone’s political nerves are very sensitive these days; in Abilene, just as much as the rest of the country. Everyone has an opinion and some have taken a clear stance. Some are impassioned by the current political climate and some are just keeping their heads down, hoping it will be over soon.

As an employee of the Abilene Chamber, I have a unique perspective, of local politics especially, in that literally everything we engage in has political implications, election season or not. By this time, you have undoubtedly heard that the Chamber Board has unanimously voted to endorse both the Abilene Independent School District (AISD) Bond (Vote YES for Abilene Kids), and to also endorse Taylor County Prop A, which proposes a five cent maintenance tax per $100 valuation on all taxable property for the purpose of improving/expanding the program offerings of Cisco College and making college more accessible to all who are pursuing that route. And to tell you the truth, I am personally proud to work for an organization that not only is willing to join hands with the community and pull some of the weight of moving us all forward, but also an organization that is willing to commit to a position and stand by it, even in the face of criticism.

These two propositions are not the only reason I won’t vote a straight party-line ticket, but in this Nov. 6 election, they are the main reason. I understand your reasoning in wanting to vote for one party over the other: you are passionate about your beliefs. You don’t want to endure one more moment under the thumb of THOSE PEOPLE. Any of them. And who are we kidding, it saves time, right? I don’t have to spend my time investigating the background and voting record of everyone on the ballot, because my Party has already done that. I’m IN.

But there’s a small problem there. By voting straight party-line, there’s a chance you will have forfeited your vote on other issues, and other offices, that may still be important to you. The propositions I mentioned above are not affiliated with one party or the other. There are also a handful of Abilene offices that are not being contested by both parties. You can view a sample ballot and see what I am talking about HERE. By voting straight party-line, there are boxes that will be left unchecked when you cast your ballot. By voting straight party-line, You are actually giving up your voice on a variety of issues and handing the decision making over to those you may not agree with. By not carefully considering each candidate and each additional proposition listed on the ballot, you are allowing the rest of us to decide what kind of taxes you will pay and who will represent you in offices that affect the quality of your daily life in Abilene.

I will be voting YES for Abilene Kids, and I will also be voting in support of the five cent tax for Cisco College because the future of our Abilene workforce is important to me. I am going to take the time to consider every ballot item and candidate individually to make sure that I am heard on each item. I know that a great many of Abilenians are also very interested in making sure their voices are heard and their votes are counted. And even though we may not agree on each issue, our votes carry the same amount of weight.

Please take the time, now, and on November 6, to forgo straight party-line voting and make sure your vote is clearly recorded on each individual issue and office. This isn’t a Democrat or Republican issue. It’s a personal responsibility issue, and it’s a privilege that people died to give you. Please honor that with me. Early voting begins TODAY!

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