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Hanging out with Benny: Get out the vote - naked or not!

You may have seen the ads around the neighborhood or on Facebook:

"Voting is Vital"
"Vote Naked"
"If you don’t vote … you can’t complain."

These well-intentioned, creative campaigns have been put together because we are in the midst of a pretty big election season.

In my bi-weekly "Hanging out with Benny" column, I focus on someone or some event around town that is worth noting. Because of the importance of voting, I decided that I would discuss one of the most important events of the year: Election Day!

Maybe you just aren’t feeling the hype.

There is no presidential election on the ballot, which typically draws a much larger percentage of voters. In fact, thousands of people who never vote, casted one in November 2008 … Obama certainly turned out the crowds.

We are fast approaching November 2010 but as I talk to people around town, some do not even realize an election is coming up. Amongst several other important races here in California, we will even be electing a new governor (yes, good old Arnold is termed out)!

We will also be voting on our U.S. Senators, County Supervisor’s race, all the even numbered City of San Diego Council Districts, State Assembly, the school board races, and numerous others.

There are even some propositions on the ballot dealing with things like medical marijuana, state parks, global warming, and the state budget.

So why aren’t you voting?

Is it because you think your vote won’t count?
Do you think you are too busy?
Do you feel like you don’t have enough information to make a choice?
Are you lazy?
Do you just not care?

If you are using any of the excuses above, I must say, you are pretty lame. Yes, lame.

Every vote really does count – consider State Assemblywoman Mary Salas’ 22 vote loss to Juan Vargas in last June’s primary election for a State Senate seat. Yes, 22 votes. Believe it.

Too busy, huh? We all have hectic schedules. Most of us work. Many of go to school. We all have family and social obligations. I have a full-time job, a second job that takes up of all my free hours, I’m a graduate student, am involved in numerous community groups, sort of have a boyfriend, have family to attend to, and try to maintain a social life. I’m sure your life is just as busy, so if I can vote, you can too …

In fact, you don’t even have to go to the polls on November 2. Just register to vote by mail; then you can sit in bed, fill out the ballot, and drop it in the mail. It's that easy.

Click here to register to vote by mail.

Not enough information? There is plenty. Not only will SDGLN soon be releasing a voter guide, but there are so many other places to get information. One of my favorite non-partisan, unbiased sources is the Easy Voter Guide.

Are you lazy? Sounds like a personal problem. Again, voting by mail allows you to lay on the couch and vote naked if you want to. All you have to do is get off your bum for 30-seconds to walk to your mailbox.

If you don’t care … we need to talk. Those who we elect to office really, truly affect our day-to-day lives. Consider the potholes you drive over on your way to work that piss you off. Your City Council member is your direct link to get them fixed. By voting for someone who cares about fixing city infrastructure, you are more likely to get that pothole fixed, lessening the damage to your car. And there are so many more examples like this.

Vote naked. Vote at the park. Vote, drop your ballot in the mailbox, then head to a bar to celebrate. Vote anywhere. Just register, do it, and get it over with. It’s too important.

Don’t forget about these important dates:

October 4: If you’ve registered to vote by mail, you can actually start voting on this day! Get it over with! You can also go vote in person at the Registrar of Voters office, Mon-Fri 8am-5 pm.

October 18: Last day to register to vote. Seriously, if you haven’t registered and are eligible to do so, you’re kind of a problem. Click here to register. What else do we need to do to get you to do it?

October 26: Want to vote naked? You have to register to get a mail ballot by this day. They’ll send you one. You send it back. Too easy.

November 2: Polls are open. This is the big day. Mail ballots also must be turned in by this day. What do we need to do to get you there? I’ll even give you a ride to the polls in my new car. It has heated and cooling seats. Ride in style. Just get there!

If you have any questions about voting or want to tell me why you think you SHOULDN’T vote, let’s duke it out! E-mail me at ben@sdgln.com or call me at (877) 727-5446 x707.

Everything you need to know about voting in San Diego County can be accessed on the Registrar of Voters web site at www.sdvote.com.

Remember, if you don’t vote … you can’t complain!

Benny Cartwright is a staff writer with SDGLN who focuses on non-profits, politics, and higher education. Also known as "Mr. Pride," he regularly informs our readers about the various Pride celebrations happening throughout California (and Tijuana). Benny also writes a social column, giving a more in-depth look at his sometimes fabulous, sometimes crazy, but always eventful life. He has written for a number of local publications over the years, starting with San Diego’s Update! newspaper in 2005. Benny is also involved with numerous community organizations, goes to grad school, and has a "day job" – he’s one busy guy!