If you got past that first line, you’re probably not avoiding your responsibility. Vote because you should, and vote because it is a license to complain afterwards. Maybe even run.
If you’re continuing to read it might be because you’re curious about voting is like on Whidbey Island. When in doubt, go to the Island County Elections page. They’re the authority; but here are a few key quick things to know.
Paper Mail-in Ballots
Thanks to Washington State for making all elections rely on paper ballots that are mailed in. Trust the US Postal Service for helping make life easier. The State and the County mail out Voters’ Pamphlets, then ballots (probably only to registered voters, but you’ve already done that. If not, check our their page for ways to get that done.) For folks who want to research the candidates, it’s popular to open the Voters’ Pamphlet, fire up the computer to open a variety of web sites, and then march and mark your way through the ballot. Seal, sign, deliver, and congratulate yourself on a duty well done – without having to visit polling places, stand in line, and maybe even catch someone else’s germs. Yuck.
If you don’t trust the US Postal Service or you wait until the deadline, there are several ballot boxes where you can drop your ballot into the box. That may seem like more of a ritual, for some. Whatever works to get those ballots in.
The previous post was about Red Light Districts. These districts are different. Voting districts don’t look as gerrymandered as some in other parts of the country, but there are a few odd shapes that surely have sound, non-partisan reasons for being drawn that way. Cough. Cough. A simple benefit of seeing the voting districts is as a proxy for population density. The small-ish yellow parts of the map are high density, but probably about the same total population as great swathes of rural terrain.
Also, notice the other island, Camano. Island County is actually several islands, though only Whidbey and Camano make the news on election night. The only votes on Baby Island are from the seals and gulls, but they’re counting something else. Camano gets a voice, so not everything goes Whidbey’s way.
Talk about sensitive topics, or don’t. The island isn’t just red or blue. Just like the state tends to be split, red in the east, blue in the west; the island is usually split red in the north, blue in the south – but that’s an illusion. Draw it by district and differences begin to appear. Draw it by neighborhoods and find more distinctions. Draw it by households and find opposing parties on opposing, or even adjoining, lots. Then, by bedrooms, and even within some beds there will be further divisions.
Because of the diversity on the island, don’t be surprised that the map needs more than two colors: Greens, Libertarians, Cascadians (more about that in a future post), and even a few or several Anarchists. And even those groups aren’t homogeneous.
Many people move to Whidbey to lead independent lives. They understand their unique values, and those values don’t always perfectly mirror party lines. Those differences make for some fascinating conversations – as long as the labels are ignored.
Whidbey can also be a place that makes it easy to do more than vote. Run. Every ballot usually contains several unopposed positions. Fill them! Got an idea? Stand by it. Get your name on the ballot and take a great step up in responsibility, and really get to complain. And also make yourself the target of voters and non-voters who will inevitably complain, too. It would be odd if that sounded appealing; but the more appealing benefit is the ability to try to make a change that’s more than one vote on one day. Want to change Whidbey? Run. Want to preserve Whidbey? Run. Considering the number of unopposed positions, it looks like it’s easier here than in The Big Cities.