by Don Stroud
Go and grab your wallet before reading further. Got it? Good. Stuffed in that crevice of faded gas receipts and expired coupons should be a colored paper bullet, your Voter Registration Certificate. (Now would be a good time to gather your children around you for a quick civics lesson.)
The power of one
This small document is your authorization to participate in the civil transfer of power and to uphold policy that protects your freedoms. If exercised, your right to vote has the potential of affecting the course of history. You never know when yours might be one of the few hundred votes that alter the outcome of a presidential election. Remember November 2000? It is very likely some races in the upcoming general election will be determined by a margin less than the number of registered voters in some support groups. This small margin means home school families who cast informed votes can have a powerful influence in electing candidates who respect parental rights, and in particular, the right to homeschool.
The 2000 primary offers a good example of the impact of a handful of votes. A home schooling father running for State Board of Education lost by 306 votes out of 21,004 votes cast. The outcome would have been different if just 154 of those who may have cast uninformed votes for his opponent had voted for him instead.
The outcome might also have been different if every home schooling family in that region had just taken the time to research the candidates and then made the effort to go vote. Donna Harp, veteran home schooler and THSC board member, underscored this in the September 2002 issue of the CHEACT Chronicles, by writing, “If the people cannot – or do not – take part in the selection of representatives and operation of their local, state and federal governments, they risk seeing freedoms that they hold dear restricted or lost outright to bureaucrats who do not respect the opinion of the people whom they serve.”
This is particularly important in light of overtures made by California Superintendent of Public Instruction, Delaine Eastin, calling for “a legislative solution” to home schooling. Texas home schoolers defeated such a call for a bureaucratic and “legislative solution” in 1986. In what came to be known as the Austin TEA Party, approximately 6,000 home school parents showed up to testify at a public hearing held by the State Board of Education in its attempt to regulate home schooling. What would be the impact on all levels of government if informed home schoolers continually showed up at the polls in those numbers? This brings us back to your paper bullet.
Are you eligible to vote?
With the October 10th deadline quickly approaching, you need to check three important fields on your voter registration certificate:
Name and Permanent Residence Address – Does the blue section show your current physical address?
Valid thru – Is your card valid through 12/31/07?
Precinct # – This determines where you vote.
Now have your spouse and any other family members of voting age perform the same check on their cards.
If your name or address has changed, you may need to complete and submit a new Voter Registration Application before October 10th to insure your right to vote in the upcoming election.
If you have registered but do not have a current voter registration certificate, notify the person who handles the voter registration duties in your county. This will either be the tax assessor-collector, elections administrator or county clerk. The website of the secretary of state, can help you determine whom to contact.
When and where to early vote
Stop for a moment and mark Monday, October 23, on your calendar. This is the first day of early voting. Contact the authority conducting the elections in your county for early voting locations and hours.
Where to vote on Election Day, November 7
Again, verify with the authority conducting the elections in your county. Due to redistricting, you may now be in a different voting precinct and will be voting at a different location than previous elections. Also, take a few minutes to learn the boundary lines of your precinct.
How to vote
Make it a point to learn as much as you can about every candidate* in every race on the ballot, and vote the entire ballot, front and back. Involve your children while interviewing candidates and asking questions on critical issues1. Get beyond the canned sound bites with open-ended questions.
As a family, compare and discuss the party platforms of the candidates2. When you conduct an interview, try to determine if the candidate really believes and supports the various positions of his chosen party.
A Legacy of Action
When you determine a candidate or party is worthy of your support, work together as a family in helping elect that candidate or that party’s candidates. Talk to your neighbors and church members. Make phone calls. Volunteer as a family for a time slot at the phone bank. Distribute literature. Assemble and pound yard signs. Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper.
Freedom of speech, freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of the press, and freedom to worship Him as He directs…What a privilege to practice good stewardship of the freedoms God has entrusted to you! Every time you cast a discerning vote, you are firing another shot in the battle to preserve civility. May you enjoy your labors in our worthy Cause.
*Editor’s note: THSC PAC endorses statewide and legislative candidates based on surveys and interviews.
This article first appeared in the November 2002 CHEACT Chronicles, the member newsletter of CHEACT and is used with permission of the Christian Home Education Association of Central Texas (CHEACT) and the author. The dates and deadlines in this article have been updated to reflect current information for the 2006 elections.
1Sample Questions for Candidates
What publications do you read on a regular basis to stay current on issues?
What books have you read in the past year, and how have they impacted your perspective?
What current leaders do you respect most and why?
How do you define education?
Within the past 10 years, describe an occasion in either your private or public life when you had to make an unpopular decision that cost you financially, politically or socially?
How would you describe your worldview?
How do you view man? What do you believe about the nature of man?
Would you mind if I ask you a science/biology question… When do you believe life begins?
May I ask you a personal history question…? When do you believe your life began?
Specific Questions for Judicial Candidates –
Which current U.S. Supreme Court justices reflect your judicial philosophy?
What do you believe most influenced the Founding Fathers’ philosophy on government?
What has had the greatest influence on your judicial philosophy?
How would you respond to someone who tells you there are no absolutes?
What are your thoughts on Judge Roy Moore?