Here's another installment in my ongoing series about the costs of voting.
So it's an off-year election here in Texas, which means local elections and statewide constitutional amendments.
For the most part, I didn't have a problem. I took about an hour to research the nine different state constitutional amendments. A few required some thought, but most were no-brainers. The mayor's race in town was an easy choice, especially after Ben Hall decided to come out against policies that would start treating gays and lesbians like human beings.
That was probably another hour of research.
There were no school board seats up in my district, the two local bond issues were well covered and my local City Councilwoman was unopposed.
That's another hour, but still so far so good.
And then I got to the five at-large council seats.With interviews from sites like Texpatriate, and Kuffner's, as well as candidate web sites, I was able to get enough information to make a semi-informed choice on four of five. For one, a good working relationship with Annise Parker made the decision, on another a good interview on planning issues put me over the top. For another, seeing a list of accomplishments on his Web site leaned me in his direction, while for a fourth candidate earned my vote because a local progressive had volunteered for her campaign.
This was about two hours of research.
But I STILL couldn't figure out who I wanted in one of the races.
You see, there's always one electoral race that I have no clue is coming or overlook. In Ann Arbor, it was always the local library board. There always seemed to be four people running for three slots. Three of the candidates were usually nice, upstanding, stewards of the community -- and the fourth was a raging lunatic. The problem was that I could never suss out the lunatic and information was usually thin on the ground.
And so I -- a guy who has either covered or studied politics for a living for the past 15 years -- still have not filled out a complete November ballot in my life.
Also, even after five hours of research, note how many of my choices were made by cues and vague impressions and not necessarily carefully considered information.
The costs of voting are real -- and that's even without my having any problems with ID, or having to wait in line at my conveniently located rich-neighborhood well-run polling place.