Editorial: How do you decide who to vote for?

How do you decide who to vote for this Primary Election? The election is on Tuesday, and statewide, there are candidates vying for your vote. We vote to decide the Democratic and Republican candidates who will appear on the General Election ballots in November. See a sample ballot in last week’s edition of The Citizen as well as profiles on all local candidates running for office.

So back to the original question: How do you decide who to vote for?

Do you check off only Democratic or only Republican candidates and be done with it? That would work in the General Election — but not so much in the Primary, because you’re picking a party preference when you get your ballot. Your ballot will be all Dems or all Repubs.

Do you choose based on how a candidate looks? It seems some columnists in the state have (one in particular) a lot to say about how candidates, especially female ones, look. This columnist has in a stereotypical manner opined that a particular candidate should use younger photos of herself because she is apparently “aging.” There is no similar advice given to male candidates who are balding with age; the emphasis is on the male candidates’ achievements.

If you want to view someone’s photo and vote based on his or her looks, that’s none of my business. But what do looks have to do with whether he or she can get the job done?

Do you choose based on a person’s religious affiliation, background or education? Certainly, it’s nice to vote for someone you can identify with. Those things are part of what makes up a person. You can guess at a candidate’s values based on some of those responses.

Do you choose based on extensive research into a candidate’s platform and the veracity of his or her words? I would be surprised to know if many people look deeper into candidates’ platforms rather than receiving most of what is said at face value.

Get informed. Don’t let ignorance be an excuse for not voting next week. If you don’t know where to vote, visit the Alabama Secretary of State’s Web site, choose elections, and enter the requested information in the search box. It will let you know what district you’re in and where to vote.

By Denise DuBois, Executive Editor