I was talking to a friend about the election this year. We weren’t talking about the presidential election, or even the senators or other political figures. We were talking about the propositions on the California ballot. He felt overwhelmed by all the measures and propositions up for a vote. There are 17 state-wide propositions, and numerous county and city measures. “I want to make a wise choice, but how can I make a big decision on all these measures? I don’t have the time to do all the research to make an informed choice!”
I told him that it’s natural to feel overwhelmed. Faced with so many decisions, it’s tempting to feel paralyzed. But instead of focusing on all the measures, I told him to look at one or two that he feels are really important and educate himself on those. I would rather that he make an informed choice on an issue that he really cares about and abstain from voting on everything else, than for him to feel so overwhelmed and disconnected that he doesn’t vote at all.
This has been a tumultuous and difficult election year. Many people may feel like throwing their hands up and not voting at all. And it’s true that any individual person’s vote doesn’t matter. But voting is only one way of engaging with the democratic process. The propositions on the ballot were put up by organizations and people who care deeply about the issues involved. And just passing one proposition probably won’t solve all the issues. Use this opportunity to see what important issues are coming up for your community. If you’re short on time, pick the one or two that you find important, and learn about what’s going on. And after you vote, keep learning and stay involved. You may not be able to solve the issues for the whole state, but you can at least learn about how those issues play at in your neighborhood.

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