Enjoying the write-in process

I admit it. Though I’m cynical in regards to most things in life, there is still a part of me that leans to the idealistic side. I love to root for the underdog, to hope that our reporters can make a difference in someone’s life every week and that someone, somewhere, will come up with a way to convince the entire world simultaneously that peace and love build a stronger foundation than distrust and violence.

And, yes, I get absolutely swept off my feet by the very notion of a true democratic process.

Yes, I know some things are flawed in our system. On a national level, I realize that something is wrong when a Republican’s vote doesn’t really matter in Massachusetts, or a Democrat’s vote doesn’t really do anything in Nebraska — because of the electoral college. Locally, I know that people don’t get the full media rush on the candidates, meaning that people don’t always get all the information they need to cast an educated vote.

But there’s still something to that whole notion of “one person, one vote.”

It’s pure. It’s fair. It’s honest. The people who make up a jurisdiction have the opportunity to basically hire the person they feel will do the best job for them. And while it’s indeed a rush when the person you voted for wins the seat, there’s also a level of satisfaction when the person you backed doesn’t win. Fine, that individual might not represent you for a determined period of time, but that vote reflects your voice — and lets the winner know that there are some people he or she still needs to satisfy.

But every now and then a situation comes up like the one we’re seeing in the 41st District.

Without rehashing what we’ve all read and heard over the past several months, the former state representative from that district, John Atkins, stepped down from his seat following a series of events in his personal life — and a lot of heat from his peers. To replace him, there will be a special election this weekend, and the people of the 41st will have the opportunity to vote in their representative for state concerns.

And this is where it gets interesting.

Several people in the area are of the feeling that they already voted for their representative, and that the person they want in that seat is Atkins. They are forming a collective of sorts to rally support for a write-in campaign to get Atkins back in his seat. Though I’m not entirely sure if they support Atkins because they feel he’s the best man for the job, or because they simply don’t like the idea of “outsiders” taking away the person they voted for in the first place, I just get an absolute rush out of a write-in campaign.

This is “grassroots” campaigning at its finest. There is no big swell of party money funneling in, the candidate obviously has to step back a bit from the process and let his or her supporters carry the load and there’s a sense of people pushing a rock uphill to get their candidate in office.

Let’s face facts — it’s hard to win an election as a write-in candidate. The uninformed voter doesn’t see the candidate’s name on a ballot, the party-line voters don’t see a little “R” or “D” next to the person’s name and, well, it takes a little more effort to write someone’s name down then it does to just hit that pre-printed box.

But, man, there’s still something exciting about it.

Now, I’m not going to sit here and put my support behind Atkins for this election. There are too many things to consider, plus I genuinely like both Lynn Bullock and Greg Hastings, two other candidates for the seat that I feel would do a great job for the area in their own rights. However, it is fascinating to me, and I can’t wait to see how the numbers turn out in the end.

And the voyeur in me would love to see the reaction in Dover if Atkins steps back into his seat. Well, the voyeur in me would also like to climb a tree from time to time with a high-powered set of binoculars and gaze into various windows as ...

But I digress.

Though I can’t back Atkins for this seat in good conscience, I do back the effort of his followers for doing everything within their collective power to get their man back in office. It’s laudable when the democratic process is used as a tool to express a voice, and commendable whenever any group of people involve themselves in the mechanisms of politics with a fervor and passion such as they have displayed.