In the Fall 1999 issue of the National NOW Times, we asked readers how they felt about local and national elections, issues and candidates. From the number of responses, it's clear that this topic is important to you. Here is a summary of the results from last fall:
1) Do you vote in every election, national and local? If not, why not?
Good for you! 90% of our respondents vote at every national and local election, while the remainder reported limited participation due to health, missing the registration deadline or closed polls. In national elections, our readers showed a slightly higher turnout, with 93% voting regularly.
"May Anthony, Stanton, Catt and company haunt the dreams of every woman fool enough not to use a right so painfully won." —Marie Shear, Brooklyn, NY
"I've never missed even one election in 36 years." —Julie Sweet, Tacoma, WA2) What are the most important issues to you in local races? In national elections?
The number one issue in local races is education, while reproductive rights topped the list on the national level. Other important issues from a local perspective were (in descending order): reproductive rights, equal rights for all, environment, health care, residential development, taxes and crime. Main concerns at the national level included: the environment, health care, equal rights for all, education, the economy and campaign finance reform.
"I'm always concerned with candidates' stance on women's issues— pro-choice and opportunities for women in government and in jobs that are (or have been) traditionally for men." —Lou Ann Basham, Marietto, GA3) What part of the political process most turns you off?
Our readers object most to the involvement of money from big business. The next issues respondents find disillusioning are the lies and half-truths coming from politicians' mouths, and the character attacks they so freely exchange. Other critiques of the political process included: right-wing ideology, the amount of money necessary to run for office and the bombardment of television advertisements that are mostly negative.
"No one ever takes a stand on anything!" —Jo Carey, Taos, NM4) How can we improve the process and get more people to vote?
The majority of readers felt that if people recognized the power of each individual vote, they would be more inclined to participate. Respondents said we need more information about the issues, new candidates and campaign finance reform. Finally, respondents suggested increased and more accessible voter registration and balloting.
"Improve the short term memory of elected officials. They soon forget who and for what elected them." —Elaine Cook, Burke, VA5) What qualities are you looking for in a candidate?
"Elect more women." —A.C. Riley, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
In direct correlation with readers' complaints, the main quality they seek is honesty. Respondents also said that a candidate needs to share concern for women's issues, specifically reproductive rights. The word "fairness" came up frequently. Other qualities included: the candidate's integrity, education, compassion and a general willingness to listen to people.
"Honesty, go the distance, piss people off—but do it!" —Lynee Cetrel, Long Island, N.Y.