Columns 2007

Of elections and totally insane voter referendum

OK, now that all the political pundits and talking heads have had their chance to pick last week’s election apart, it’s time for a layperson to check in with her perspective. I claim the title of layperson since I can honestly say that I NEVER pay attention to most of the issues we vote on until absolutely forced to by an impending election. And even then I tend to hang up on all the recorded messages because I’m just too old and have way too little time left in life to listen to them.

So my preparation for an election consists of three things.  One is reading the paper late at night before I fall asleep and hoping that the information oozes through to my brain past the fog of drowsiness that seems to overcome me about 9 PM. Two is listening to the shows put on by KSKA and KAKM before elections. And three…well, there really isn’t a three.  If something seems really important I might read the junk mail I get about it. But mostly that mail hits the trash before it even gets into my house. 

So from the perspective of a voter who votes in most elections, here’s my recap of an election that saw dramatically less than 50% of the voting public make decisions for all the rest of you who don’t seem to get how important you vote actually is.

I had a hard time voting for all those bond propositions because, to be honest, if my property taxes go up much more, I’ll have to dramatically downsize my home. I can afford the mortgage but I sure can’t afford the constant rise in property taxes that comes both from bond propositions and the amazing increase in assessed value my home suddenly has realized. Yet I voted for the bonds.

I think this was a combination of feeling like Scrooge if I voted no again and having actually paid attention to what they were for and feeling that they were needed.  The fact that there would be lots of outside money to help with costs actually influenced me a lot less than the people flogging those points would think. Ultimately, I had to decide that we needed the projects the bonds would pay for or I would not have voted for them unless they were totally free.

I found the various city races to be as predictable as I imagined.  I happen to live in a section of town where the candidates running to represent me on the Assembly simply didn’t come out as being that much different.  But then it seems to me that local races here in Anchorage really don’t end up being very colorful most of the time. 

In this regard I have to say that local elections on the North Slope were a lot more fun. Since the total population of the North Slope is less than just my area of Anchorage, all elections up there are very personal. That makes them a lot more interesting to watch as they develop. And, may I add, people running for office on the North Slope give things away like potholders and sewing kids and hats…all kinds of fun stuff. I think we should import that practice here. If nothing else, they make great items for July 4 scavenger hunts.

Finally, of course, I can hardly discuss last week’s election without referring to that inanely stupid million dollar opinion poll masquerading as a vote on the issue of benefits for same sex couples. Heck, if they’d given me half as much money, I’d have polled at least as many people as bothered to vote on Tuesday and gotten the results for the state a whole lot cheaper.

The problem is, I think we were asking the wrong question. Since the concern seems to be that anything to do with same sex couples weakens traditional marriages, and since traditional first marriages are failing at a rate close to 50%, I think we should just poll people whose marriages have failed and find out what percent of their marriages fell apart due to the presence of same sex couples in Alaska or the provision of health care benefits to same sex partners here.  Heck, let’s expand the question since we already have them on the phone and ask how many think that the existence of same sex couples in this state has caused their children to chose to be gay.

Now those would be poll results worth reading. And again, let me add, I will do it for way less than a million dollars.  Wait, is that my phone I hear ringing?  Is it the state office of inane and expensive polls offering me a contract? Could I be that lucky?