With the National Election just a week away I thought it would be a good time to tell you how to vote. Don’t get all crazy just yet – I don’t want to tell you who/what to vote for, just how to go about voting. A quick look at this year’s ballot shows that there are more confusing and conflicting issues to vote on than ever before. Having a system to sort all of this out will be helpful.

Why handle this in a financial column? Because your electoral choices directly and indirectly impact your bank account. And besides – engagement in our social democracy by way of your vote is the most important input you can have short of running for office yourself.

So, how did we get so many initiatives and measures to decide on? In California “the people” can put issues on the ballot. In most states this honor is left to the state legislature. The process for doing this requires signatures from registered voters in the State. And the threshold number of signatures is dependent on voter turn-out in the last Statewide election. Voter turn-out for the 2014 election was pitifully low, so the threshold was very low (comparatively) for 2016 inclusion on the ballot.

That said – you now need to figure out what to do. My wife has spent over 20 hours reading, investigating and determining how she’ll vote. I want to share some of the tricks she developed to help he, in hopes that they can help you:

  1. Is up, up? When approaching any ballot measure, figure out what your vote means. Authors of these issues have become masters at making your yes vote create a no result, and vice versa. So read and analyze to make sure you know what your vote means.
  2. Google it. There is great information on the internet. But makes sure you know who’s site you are reading. Millions of dollars have been spent to disguise the intentions of the promoter. We’ve found a site that started in 2007, is as nonpartisan and neutral as I’ve ever seen – check it out – www.Ballotpedia.org.
  3. Follow the money. Sometimes the fastest way to know if you agree with something is to find out who is paying for it. If all the dough is coming from an organization or company that you agree with then you probably agree with their position. Campaign finance laws require disclosure of financial supporters.

The logistics of voting are important too. Early voting has started in California. You don’t have to wait until November 8th to cast you ballot. Search for “where to vote” using your favorite browser. Voting early means you’ll avoid the lines and stress of the big day.

Voting by Mail is also a way to avoid the crowds. Unfortunately, the window to request a vote by mail ballot has closed for this election. But remember it for next time. Go to www.ocvote.com for all kinds of Orange County Registrar of Voters info.

On election day the polls will open at 7:00AM and remain open until 8:00PM. If you’re not going early, you must be in line before the close of the polls to be able to cast your vote (plan to show up early to make sure). Find out your voting location at www.ocvote.com.

I’ll be volunteering at the poll location at Bathgate Elementary in Mission Viejo. If that’s your precinct be sure to say hello.

When you go to vote, leave your candidate buttons, t-shirts, etc. at home. Election regulations prohibit campaign influence of any kind with 100 feet of the polling place. And those same regulations prohibit voter intimidation – the USA is all about free and fair elections.

I encourage you to prepare for, and then go vote. Our electoral process is one of the things that defines us. It all started over “taxation without representation” – don’t blow your opportunity for representation, because you won’t avoid the taxation part. Your money matters, and so does your vote!