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Hold Your Noses and Vote the Bottom of the Ticket to Send A Real Message This Primary Season

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Tomorrow is primary day in Florida, and only a handful of people know about it, or care. If you think "None of the Above" is the best choice in state and federal races, vote in the local races, the bottom of the ticket, and send a message to your party while still doing the people's business.

We don't have many obligations in this country. We pay our taxes, and we vote, primarily. Federal prison penalties keep the turnout for the former pretty high. Voting though, will be at an all-time low, experts predict, in state primaries.

We're all disappointed in politicians. Republican or Democrat, the system has failed miserably in so many ways, at so many levels. The blind run at power at all costs, funded by special interests and corporations who buy and pay for legislation with political contributions and campaign subsidies, has stymied the economy, and eliminated or bypassed the safety valves that keep the engine of this nation's mighty business base running in neutral.

Staying home, though, does not send much of a message. It says apathy more than anger. There are a number of really good reasons to vote, all of them right in your own back yard.

There are a lot of local races, from school boards to water authorities, along with bond issues and referenda on local regulations that need your approval. Usually the also-rans on a primary ballot, you can not only help shape policy around the people and projects that most affect you immediately, but you can send a very loud message to the party leadership of both parties.

If even 10% of the people voting cast their ballots only for the local measures, that would send a whopping-loud message to the folks spending millions on state and national races that you've tuned them out, but that you still believe in the political process.

Remember that this is not a primary for many local races, and ballot measures. This is their one shot at getting your approval.

You can also get involved in a local race in something that affects you or your kids particularly. If volunteer rates rise for non-partisan races, it will also send a loud message that you believe in the system, but not in the major parties' state and national mediocrity.

This year, I decided to get involved in the Palm Beach County School Board race when a situation at one of my kid's schools woke me up to the fact that, even with a 95% A rating in our district, policies of superintendent Art Johnson that were being rubber-stamped by a tired School Board needed change before we started losing programs and great teachers.

With four seats open on a board of seven, this is the year to affect change. So I did a little research, and found the progressive candidate in my school board district, Marcia Andrews. I'm helping her campaign for a few hours here and there, and both showing my support for a cause that I believe in, and my disdain of the business-as-usual politics being played here in Florida.

It's been interesting to see that, in local politics, getting to the few motivated voters who turn out is everything. Mrs. Andrews has been speaking to people all over her district at places where the politically interested turn out. A few thousand votes may be all that get recorded out of more than a hundred thousand in her district.

The problem is trying to get the other 99% of the population to turn out and vote.

Elected Judges are an office category where you can go online and learn a lot in a few minutes about the different candidates. I found several sites put up by local lawyers and the candidates themselves. I found that, after about 20 minutes, I could make a very informed decision on all three of those races.

In many areas of the country there are bond measures that need to get passed to build schools, improve roads, or contribute to the quality of life in your town or county.

Do you have any idea how much impact just a handful of voters who take my advice would have on the state and national political process? Political consultants would find it very, very troubling.

The parties pay millions to get accurate polling information. If they found out from their pollsters that voters were showing up to the polls, but refusing to cast a vote in elections where the choices are bad and worse, it would have a profound impact on the next general election.

They cannot write you off to apathy if you show up and vote locally.

The candidates you get are the ones that you put up with. Stop playing the game, and they have to change the way the game is played if they want your attention in future.

So vote in Florida tomorrow. If you vote in Illinois, vote often. Wherever you are, VOTE LOCAL. That is the clarion bell of change this election season.

My shiny two.