CAMPBELL: Vote based on research, not blind loyalty

In just under one month, many Americans will head to the polls to decide who will be the next president of our country. It’s kind of a big deal. So big, in fact, that I think it requires voters to take a little extra time to consider their decision before they fill in the bubbles on a ballot (or punch holes or tap a screen … however your state rolls).

There are many important issues in this election that both candidates have strong stances on. None of them are arbitrary, random ideas someone decided to believe. The candidates probably sat down with members of their parties and campaign staff to decide the best way to handle them by taking many things into consideration.

Both Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama have taken the time to research the issues and what is important to the American people to decide their platforms. Voters owe it to the candidates to do the same when it comes to deciding how to vote.

There are people out there who consistently vote for one party or the other simply because of their stance on a single issue or a few of the current hot topics in America. I believe this kind of voting does the United States a great disservice. An elected official’s job is not just to work with one or two specific issues, but to handle a myriad of problems and policies to make sure the American people are being served by their government in the best possible way.

Before you vote, I think you have a responsibility to your country and fellow citizens to do your research. You may wholeheartedly agree with a particular candidate on one issue, but when you look closer, some of their other policies may seem questionable. You are not voting on a specific bill – you are voting for the highest office in our land. Remember that. Examine the campaign websites of each candidate and do even further research. Read newspaper articles from multiple sources about candidates and listen to your friends’ and family members’ opinions. What’s amazing about the United States today is that we have the freedom to engage in political discourse in many different ways — in print, online and in person. Take advantage of that when you are making your decision for whom to vote.

And do not forget about local issues. Yes, Nov. 6 is the date of the presidential election, but many local offices and issues will also be on your ballot. No matter which state you vote in, don’t forget about them. Blur party lines and vote for the people you most agree with to serve you and your fellow citizens, not just every candidate from a particular party simply because they are part of that party.

There are also many people who say neither Romney nor Obama is fit to be the president. These people are completely entitled to that opinion, but it’s pretty much a guarantee that, come November, one or the other will be voted into office. Some people may wish to withhold their vote because they do not think either should be elected, and some people may have completely legitimate reasons to do so. However, if these people were to really examine each candidate, they may find that one seems more qualified than the other to run our country. It would make much more sense to cast a vote for that individual in order to take a step toward electing the most able president.

I highly encourage all of you who are 18 or older to first make sure you are registered to vote and second, to take some time to do a little research about what and whom you will be voting for in four weeks. You already have a newspaper in your hands or a news website open. You might as well spend a little more time reading today.