By Woodrow Wilcox

Be a smart voter. Don’t get confused by similar names or similar campaign slogans. Don’t be fooled into voting for someone for whom you really would not want to vote.

For example, in the election for Indiana State Representative from the third district, there are two candidates who have the same last name — Brown. The candidates are Charlie Brown and Willie Brown. The third district stretches along Lake Michigan from western parts of Gary to the Porter-LaPorte County line.

Both these men have the last name of Brown. Both these men live in Gary. Both these men are African-American. But, there are striking differences. One is a Democrat and one is a Republican. One voted for state laws that raised property taxes and one promises to work to lower property taxes. One is “pro-choice” or “pro-abortion” and one is “pro-life”. But, if you don’t check on the candidates before you walk into a voting booth, you might get confused and vote for a candidate that you really don’t want to win.

Everyone who runs for office deserves our respect. Each of them deserves to be heard on why they want to serve you and all the rest of the public.

To me, judging someone solely by their political party affiliation is just a prejudiced and narrow-minded as voting for or against people because of their race, religion, or color of skin. What really matters are the abilities, behavior, and character of the person who is running for office. To be a smart voter, learn about each candidate and how each candidate stands on the issues that are important to you.

So, please, be a smart voter. Try to learn about each candidate and for what that candidate stands. You can call both major political party headquarters in your county, the voter registration and elections office in your county, or other community leaders to ask for information about every candidate who is running for office in your neighborhood. If a candidate has a website, look at it to learn about the candidate and the candidate’s political platform and ideas. You might be surprised to learn that you like a candidate that you thought you would not like.

Be a smart voter. Don’t just vote for or against people because of race, religion, color of skin, or political party affiliation. Know how each candidate stands on the issues that are important to you. Then, vote for the candidates for whom you really want to vote.

© 2006 Woodrow Wilcox