GUEST OPINION ELECTION YEAR Use your vote to help Idaho change its fortunes

Special to The Idaho StatesmanMarch 16, 2014 

This has been quite a year already for politics in Idaho, and elections are still to come.

Maybe the year will not be a complete waste if the people of Idaho exercise their right to VOTE! Yes, our representatives finally got behind an education bill that should have been passed years ago, and plenty of the politicians who are up for re-election will lean on that as a crutch as they try to convince Idahoans about all the good they accomplished this past term.

As this year's session wraps up, there has been a rush to pass some of the most adamantly opposed bills ever introduced. These bills have been written, supported and promoted by questionable sources, along with the current elected officials who have continued to ignore the people who elected them.

These controversial bills were quickly passed by both the Senate and the House and moved at lightning speed to Gov. Butch Otter's desk for a signature. The fact is that many of these bills are pre-meditated and decided upon before the public even knows about them.

This seems to be closest to the truth since there is little or no response to the people of Idaho's concerns while some of the legislative powers lock themselves behind closed doors and ignore their responsibilities of communicating with the people they represent.

But it is an election year - time for the people of Idaho to speak out. We do feel disenfranchised as voters, and we have reasons to feel that way. If we continue to allow the default of not voting to determine who stays in office or who gets elected, Idaho will continue to come in last place in the nation where it matters most: education, health care, Medicaid, wages, good jobs and the list goes on.

Politicians know how to play the game; they know they can count on low voter turnout, so they aim a campaign at the people who bother to get out there and vote - people who are already in a party-affiliated relationship with the politician. The Republican Party has won a legal battle to offer their prestigious closed ballots to only those who publicly announce or switch parties, so they can be included in their closed primary. So much for the people's right to vote for whoever they choose.

Most of the competitive races in the May 20 primary are on the Republican side. If you haven't already registered as a Republican (the deadline was Friday), you may not get to vote in those party contests. Only those presently registered as "unaffiliated" get to switch their affiliation between now and Election Day.

If we want to avoid being the laughingstock of the nation, we must use our vote to either keep the politicians in place - or remove them.

Let's pull together and vote this election and put in place elected officials who have public rather than private agendas, and who have not made a career out of ignoring the people.

Let's get rid of the politicians who have forgotten they are there to listen to those of us who put our trust in them. Use your voice this election year and be a part of the change that Idaho so desperately needs.

Becky McKinstry is a community member of the Statesman's editorial board.

Idaho Statesman is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service