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Vote smart: Why the Aug. 26 elections are important

Your vote matters, and here’s why

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In fact, there is, and not all of it involves the litany of county commission, clerk of court, circuit judge and school board candidates lining up (and posting clever yard signs everywhere) for your consideration. Here are a few of the important reasons we’ll be voting next Tuesday.

YOUR RIGHTS ARE AT STAKE

For the better part of 2014, Orange County Commissioner Fred Brummer has been pushing amendments to the county’s charter, two of which involve the regulation of citizen initiatives. To date, only two citizen-petition efforts have succeeded in earning a place on the ballot – one for earned sick time, the other for “transparent” partisan elections. Seemingly in reaction, Brummer has been fighting the ability of citizens to move forward with initiatives that could place regulations on private businesses or limit the scope of power of the Board of County Commissioners and the mayor. Brummer also wants to see the petitioning process made more difficult by expanding the number of days that the supervisor of elections has to approve petition signatures from 45 to 150.

“I think the public has come to assume that the system is rigged, and that results in even more suppression of voters to the advantage of incumbents and powerful interests who know perfectly well that they can discourage low-information voters,” says former Orange County Democratic Executive Committee chairman Doug Head. “That constant messaging further suppresses the vote of Joe Average, who reads a story about corruption and thinks, ‘It’s all rigged anyway.’”

And that’s exactly why you need to get to the polls on Aug. 26: A county commissioner attempting to limit the power of citizens to have a voice in their own government is reason enough to vote.

SICK TIME IS STILL A THING

Even though the Legislature was swift to pass a state law in 2013 pre-empting municipalities from regulating private industries on personnel issues in an attempt to block the earned sick-time initiative, the courts still ruled that sick time should go before voters. So the question of whether businesses with 15 employees or more should be required to allow employees to earn up to 56 hours of sick time a year (enforceable in court) appears on the Aug. 26 ballot.

According to Republican political consultant Wade Vose, the strength of the sick-time issue “awoke a lot of folks in the business community.”

“Not just to what can go on here locally at the county commission level, which [they thought] just involved whether you got your zoning or were allowed to build a building,” he says, “but when folks put their mind to it, it can involve more and more regulation on business. I think that stirred up a lot of folks.”

Though the actual enforcement of a “yes” vote on the sick time issue remains uncertain – even if voters approve the sick-time measure here in Orange County, the new state law could block the county’s ability to enforce it – the fact that corporate interests, the state and the county commission went to such lengths (including breaking the law) to stop the measure makes voting in its favor that much more important. Lobbying interests should not have a louder voice than you in your own government, or a bigger place at the table. A “yes” vote – even if just in protest – is philosophically mandatory here.

A PRIMARY IS NOT ALWAYS A PRIMARY

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