Congratulations, you voted! Now what?
By DHRUTI CONTRACTOR
If the candidate you supported won the race, you have a representative you believe will fight for your priorities in government. If your candidate did not win, all is not lost.
Just as the winning candidates are now our representatives, we - the voters - are now their constituents. The winning candidates do not only represent those who voted for them, but they represent all people in their area of power.
Voting is a snapshot that tells our representatives what we think overall. The fact that the presidential race and other races in many of our states were decided by a very small margin indicates to the candidates that about half of the people disagree with their stance. They will be very careful in listening to their constituency because every elected official is looking to gain our votes for the next election.
Representatives will certainly pay attention to this snapshot for a while, but they will most pay attention to those that continue to let them know what they think. Do you really trust our representatives enough to give them a blank check to make policies and laws for us for the rest of their time in office?
Remember the following points:
� Elected by some, responsible for all ? The people who were elected, now, represent all of you and are obligated to listen to all constituents.
� Your job is not over ? Even if your candidate won the election, if you do not continue to inform them of your priorities, they will act differently based on the constituents who talk to them the most.
� Before 2005 ? Now is the time to get involved. Each body of government with the power to set policies and laws will be setting their Legislative Agenda by January 2005. This Agenda will guide the priorities in the Legislature for many years to come, so it is in your best interest to get your issues on the Agenda early. The longer you wait, the less there is a chance they can address these issues.
� It is easier than you think ? Make one phone call or write one personal letter to each of your State and U.S. Representatives. I would suggest also calling ? 1) County Commissioner or CEO; 2) State Senator; 3) State House Representative; 4) US Senator; 5) US House Representative; 5) Governor; and 6) Lieutenant Governor. Your phone call or letter can simply introduce yourself as a constituent of theirs and share your position on issue/s that are important to you.
� Use your friends ? Many of your friends probably agree with you on some policies, so give them the phone number to call these representatives before January 2005.
� Elections are every November ? Elections do not come every four years. Presidential races happen every four years, but other state and local races are on the ballot every year.
� Want more? ? If you would like to do more on any issue, become involved in an organization that works for this issue or with the political party that you believe represents you better. Sign up for MegaVote.org, which will give you a notice every time there is a major vote by your US Representatives.
Voting is the bedrock of the political process and every elected official will work hard to keep our votes. Therefore, each of us has power during and between elections. It is in our best interest to make a few phone calls early and pay attention periodically to how they vote.
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