I almost got away with it. I was more than halfway through my cinnamon roll and coffee and on the home stretch toward avoiding political discussions completely, when my father-in-law asked a question.
“Okay, Rance, so how am I supposed to vote on all this stuff?”
My father-in-law is a very smart man. He would not actually go to the polls and choose candidates and issues because I told him to. However, I believe he is one of many Missourians who are undecided on a race or two, not to mention a cornucopia of ballot issues and constitutional amendments.
I don’t tell people to vote. I will never tell someone else how to vote. I will never tell you how I vote.
That’s none of your business.
If you are really and truly undecided, the best advice I will offer is that you allow some time to read. Read the ballot language, or at least read the fair ballot language. I know it’s a lot to digest, but it’s your best bet. The people in the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office work to write fair ballot language that a reasonable person should be able to discern, though sometimes it makes you wonder. The wording is supposed to “fairly and accurately explain what a vote for and what a vote against a measure represent.”
My father-in-law asked for my help because he knows I actually go through the tedious process of reading ballot language. Since he lives in another part of the state, he is also far less familiar with the life and times of Brad Bradshaw than us southwest Missourians. He did not know to call 333-3333, or that Bradshaw is a physician, surgeon and a lawyer.
Personally, I’m more partial to Aaron Sachs’ commercials, especially the one from the last Super Bowl, but that won’t help you when you go to polls on Tuesday.
What fair ballot language doesn’t do is tell you what happens if two amendments on the same issue—like the legalization of medical marijuana—both gain voter approval. My father-in-law, smart guy that he is, was already aware that if Amendment 2 and Amendment 3 both pass, than it will be whichever amendment that gained the most “yes” votes will be the one added to the Missouri Constitution.
When he asked about the race for U.S. Senate between incumbent Claire McCaskill and challenger Josh Hawley, I purposefully avoided giving advice. You can’t watch TV, listen to the radio, go on the Internet or use a public men’s room these days without receiving some sort of advertisement related to McCaskill and Hawley.
In lieu of finger pointing, name calling and hand wringing, I would advise any undecided voter to take some time to read. Look at what McCaskill has been doing recently in the U.S. Senate. Look at legislation she has sponsored and how she has voted. You can’t do an apples-to-apples comparison with Hawley, who has no Washington voting record, but you can take a look at recent actions he has taken as Missouri attorney general.
That’s usually the sort of advice I give to anyone facing a tough decision. Don’t take it from me, or from anyone else. Spend a little quiet time by yourself to read, think and deliberate. Endorsements can help you make a decision, but they shouldn’t make the decision for you.
At the end of a Brad Bradshaw commercial, you’ll hear the following, usually spoken very quickly: “The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertising.”
The same should hold true for a U.S. Senator.