In 2012, I was working as a journalist for a mainstream media outlet here in Troy, Michigan. That year, I had the opportunity to cover the presidential election from beginning to end. I reported on a Republican national debate held at a local university, covered political events and fundraisers, followed the primaries, and spent all day (and night) working on the day of the general election.
I also covered several state and local races, including a successful mayoral recall (a process they definitely didn’t teach us in high school civics class). For a relatively green journalist only out of school for a couple of years, it was an eye-opening experience. I learned a lot about the election process, including where to go to get unbiased information about candidates, as well as information on where, when, and how to vote in the primaries and general election.
For those of you who own businesses — which will all undoubtedly be affected by the outcome of the upcoming elections in some way, shape, or form — having this information is necessary if you’re going to make an informed voting decision. In fact, in this issue, several industry leaders stress the importance of knowing your candidates and voting appropriately.
REGISTER TO VOTE
Believe it or not, there are many people out there who aren’t yet registered to vote, and different states have different registration timelines and requirements for the primary and general election. It is important to note that if you’re not currently registered to vote in your state, this is something you should take care of sooner rather than later or else risk not being able to vote at all.
For information on how and where to register, visit www.usa.gov/register-to-vote. From there, you can click on your state to see what your individual requirements are. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (www.eac.gov/resource_library/default.aspx) is also a great resource.
KNOW THE ISSUES AND CANDIDATES
There is a quote from Guido Zucconi, assistant vice president of congressional affairs at Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), that appears later in this issue, but it’s so spot-on that it bears repeating here: “The old axiom is, people have the government they deserve. If you want Congress to be more efficient, you have to pay attention to who’s running, and inform yourself before you cast your vote. Your personal politics don’t always match your business politics, so be careful what you wish for.”
Can I get a Hallelujah and an Amen? (Or perhaps a secular “heck yeah,” depending on your personal preferences?) The point Zucconi drives home is that your personal politics may not line up with what’s good for your business, so you need to think long and hard about your priorities and find candidates who share those same values (and have the voting records to prove it).
One good resource is the League of Women Voters, a nearly 100-year-old organization that aims to improve government and engage all citizens in the decisions that impact their lives. They have state and local chapters that provide information on everything from how to register to vote to where candidates stand on a variety of issues. It’s a great resource.
There is also Ballotpedia, the politically neutral “encyclopedia of American politics and elections,” as well as the U.S. Vote Foundation, which has information on your state’s election dates and deadlines as well as local election contact information, key votes from your representatives, and more. There are other resources available, but these are good places to start.
MAKE YOUR VOTE COUNT
The worst thing you can do this election season is not exercise your right to vote. From issues like the Affordable Care Act to the U.S. Department of Labor’s [DOL’s] wage and hour rule, the people we elect can either help or harm small businesses. I hope you will use some of these resources as a starting point in your own quest to align yourself with the candidates who represent and advocate for your company and employees.
Publication date: 2/8/2016