Casting vote on election day only half of job

Freedom New Mexico

We get up early, take time off work or set out after we’ve punched the clock. We stand in line. Soon after that — depending on the line, of course — the big moment arrives.

But getting to the voting booth is only half the story. Once we’re there, things truly get interesting.

How interesting depends in large part on what the voters have done in the days leading up to the election. It’s our hope that they’ll take steps to inform themselves. And before we have answers, of course, we have questions.

Here are several questions the voters might find worthwhile as they survey all those names on the ballot. (Feel free to keep these in mind even if you’ve cast your ballot already, because every year brings a new round of local, state and/or federal contests.)

Do the candidates fixate on party affiliations, even though independents currently make up somewhere around one-third of America’s registered voters?

Do the candidates have specific ideas? Do those ideas involve correcting flaws and inefficiencies or simply rewarding failure? Would they benefit some members of the citizenry at the expense of others who may or may not have done them injury?

Do the candidates speak for themselves, as opposed to letting others make the case for them — or letting others make the case against their opponents?

Do the candidates view taxation as a method of balancing the books or providing more capital to cover the government’s liabilities?

Do the candidates support open government, even when shining a light would reveal wrongdoing or incompetence?

Most important, where do the candidates stand on freedom? Every political hopeful will talk affectionately about the concept, as if quoting from a textbook, but how do these folks view liberty, choice and autonomy in practical applications — policies that determine what people do with their own money, their own property and their own minds? How much trust do they place in individuals and voluntary actions as opposed to trust in the power of government to decide correctly?

The founding fathers started with the idea of a free people served by a government, not vice versa. And periodically, the people get to register their approval or disapproval of the government’s performance in an official, binding fashion. To that end, we have elections.

Now we vote. If we’ve asked the right questions beforehand, the correct answers have a better chance of emerging.