Historical data show that voter turnout typically slows during election cycles where a president or governor is not on the ballot. This year, 2014, happens to be one of those election years.
However, the races that are taking place over the next few months are crucial for our state. We live in an era in which every race should matter to the voter.
Why? How does a school board, police jury or senatorial race affect a voting constituent?
The school board member will vote on key issues that affect our children’s education and learning environment. The police jury member will regulate the business community, and in our case, the oil and gas industry’s ability to conduct operations. And a senator will cast votes for items such as those that determine federal dollars for roads, taxes on the business community or whether nationalized health care should be instituted nationwide.
What about a local judicial race or a U.S. House race? We have all been guilty at one time or another in our voting years of not going to the polls for particular races. That pro-business judge that we did not go cast a vote for could have been the very judge that would have heard the frivolous case that was filed against our company. Or that U.S. representative that we were not excited about and therefore did not support could be the very member that votes to keep our taxes low, that in turn, allows our business doors to stay open one more year.
Each voter has a right and a duty to cast a vote anytime the opportunity is presented. Our country was founded upon a voting democracy. This is the very democracy that depends on us to show up at the polls and vote one way or another. Apathy has been the downfall of many nations over the last several centuries.
What are the key qualities for a candidate that should be reviewed when going to the polls? These qualities will vary some with each and every voting constituent. One voter will lean heavy toward social issues. One voter will be swayed strongly by fiscal concerns. Another voter will vote straight down the party line.
And lastly, the other groups of voters simply stay at home. No matter what issue is more important to you, your casting a vote is the most important duty to preserving our democracy.
As a member of the business community, no matter what the political race, identifying candidates that will support the economy of our state is vital to each and every citizen. A pro-business candidate is important to have on the school board, in the mayor’s office, at the governor’s mansion or in the White House.
Again, the point is the same. Each race matters for the future of our city, parish, state and nation. It is not prudent to complain about a road, school, tax or law if the same complaining constituent is not willing to cast a vote in all elections. As J. Paul Getty said, “If business is your profession, then you should make politics your business.”
Don Briggs is president of the Louisiana Oil Gas Association.