There’s a slant to the sunlight. The nights are cooler.
The political noise is increasing.
Autumn is here.
Republicans held their convention in Tampa; Democrats did the same this week in Charlotte. Fingers grow tired from pushing the mute button with the ever-greater flurry of campaign ads on television. The core problem of campaign finance reform is made increasingly obvious as the run-up to the November general election is fueled by sources unaccountable to the voters. There is no solution to this problem on the horizon; candidates, in particular for national office, will be beholding to funders whose identities are often unrevealed. Partisan differences are drawn sharply by rhetoric, made poisonous in legislative inaction; real differences are blurred, if not dissolved, by the money provided by corporations, unions, vested interests.
Despite the damage done to the American system by unchecked campaign finance, the call to participate in the process remains sound. With the arrival of fall, steps must be taken by those now eligible but not registered to cast votes, to ensure they can do so. It is a presidential election year, but other, more important races are being run in Colorado and Pagosa Country.
As always, it is critical that residents between the ages of 18 and 35 make their way to the polls. The presidential race four years ago attracted voters in this demographic; regardless of political inclination, younger voters need to make their marks again.
If you are 18 and newly eligible to vote, or older and not yet registered to vote, you must register before you can complete a ballot. Further, to vote in intelligent fashion, you must educate yourself with regard to the issues and candidates — in particular concerning races for seats on the county commission, a spot at the Colorado House, a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. These elected officials touch your life directly and, in most cases, are responsive to local ideas and pressure.
It is your turn. Not just to vote, but to begin to organize your political thoughts and allegiances. It is time younger voters freshen the atmosphere, invigorate and alter an increasingly depleted politics — one dominated by party conflicts and an impassable divide encouraged and enforced by party leaders. Older Americans vote in great numbers — to ensure entitlements, to promote ideas and candidates, and to see representatives of the stale party system remain in place. But, we older voters have had our chance to steer the ship and we ran it aground. It is time for new hands on the wheel, and they must be yours. Younger candidates are needed in races, younger voices must be heard. Young voters must participate.
If you are 18 or older, you have until Oct. 9 to register to vote in the Nov. 6 election.
You can register in person at the Archuleta County Clerk’s office or online at govotecolorado.com. For identification, a Colorado driver’s license is preferred but the clerk and website will accept the last four digits of your social security number.
Early voting begins Oct. 22 and continues until Friday, Nov. 2. Vote centers will be open Nov. 6 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for those who do not vote early at the election office at the courthouse.
Mail ballots are available to young voters who are away at school. A mail ballot can be requested at the county clerk’s office or on the website. Mail ballots go out on Oct. 15 and must be returned by Election Day.
Register now and step up.