Alan Riquelmy: Why everyone should vote

Voting — an easy way to get a free sticker.

Yeah, I know, there’s more to it than that. The punditry and pageantry, the debates, maybe an October surprise, or one in May, depending on what election is next.

And, of course, the more serious aspects in a country that lets most everyone vote — the research into the candidates, scouring backgrounds and beliefs, earnest discussions with friends and neighbors, hopefully in person and away from social media.

Finally, the big day, or series of days in a state like ours. You finally mail in your ballot, or drop it off, or maybe even vote in person, a mini-SAT test, scrawling in the boxes with a No. 2 pencil.

Another election season done. You’ve earned that sticker.

Now let’s get ready for the next one.

It never ends. The television commercials, mailers clogging up the postbox, and drivel that passes for punditry on cable news. The talking heads have their talking points, which we tend to repeat, depending on your flavor.

It seems like everyone knows better than everyone else, and you should vote how they want you to, or you’ll regret it. The Earth is dying, there are too many guns, there are not enough guns in the right hands, too much religion, not enough of the right religion, abortion, crime, Supreme Court, term limits.

Maybe that’s what the talking heads will eventually resort to, nothing more than shouting words and phrases — abortion, crime, Supreme Court!

As for me, well, I just want you to vote.

No, really, that’s it. Sure, I think it’s best if you educate yourself first. Learn all you can about the candidates beforehand. Read the stories we wrote about them. Cast the most well thought vote ever.

Or just punch a bunch of buttons in the voting booth. Either one.

I remember, during the impeachment trial of former President Bill Clinton, an attorney argued that senators could flip a coin to determine their vote. After all the witnesses, all that testimony, hey, if you want, why not just flip a coin?

What a message to all of us, right? I mean, there’s no requirement you educate yourself. You a citizen of this country? Eighteen years old yet? Great, here’s your ballot, it’s what the founding fathers wanted.

OK, not exactly what they wanted, but you get the point.

What do we want, though, the folks who are here, right now, comprising our country? Kids safe in school? Reasonable gas prices? Maybe good roads, your trash picked up, sales tax that isn’t too high?

You could punch all those buttons, blindly, in an attempt to get that. Or sit every election out, complaining loudly afterward about how our elected leaders don’t know squat.

Or, and this is the tough option, you could learn about the candidates and issues at play. Watch the recorded forums hosted by the League of Women Voters of Western Nevada County, read the coverage of the candidates in your local media, and walk into that voting booth cloaked in knowledge. Or at least with a passing interest in American democracy.

I’m a firm believer that anyone who tells you to sit out an election because you don’t understand the candidates or issues, or don’t know enough to cast an informed vote, is someone who’s not looking out for your well being.

You should know what’s going on before voting. It’s in your, and our, best interests.

But if you don’t know, and you still want to vote, hey, free sticker.

Alan Riquelmy is the editor of the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at or at 530-477-4249


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