Photo: CNN

Go Out and Vote – But Before You do – Google

Election Day is officially here. As an instructor, I am encouraging all my students to go vote. The question that always comes up is, “Ms. Hinojosa, who did you vote for?”

I respond, “That is personal, but I did vote.” And that’s the main point I want to drive home – I did vote. I have been voting since I was 18 and will continue to do so – not just in presidential elections, but in local elections as well – as I have done for the past several years.

According to the El Paso County Election’s Office, El Paso has been breaking record numbers in voter turnout over the last week. The wait at the University of Texas at El Paso was estimated to 2 and a half hours.

Now, please excuse me as I step onto my soap box: Having covered the Comanche Trail Pipeline story, I am going to suggest that voters pay attention not just to the presidential elections – but their local and state elections as well. If you want to know where you can make the most difference, it’s at the state and local level.

One important political candidate that doesn’t get much attention is the Railroad Commissioner.

The Texas Railroad Commissioner is not in charge of the railroads as the name suggests – but rather they are charged with regulatory controls and jurisdiction over the oil and natural gas industry – this includes the pipeline projects that have gotten some media attention over the past few months.

During a recent meeting that I covered for a story I’m working on relating to the Comanche Pipeline Trail, Leticia Miranda, alderperson for San Elizario said something that struck a cord with me.

Miranda addressed her constituents and encouraged everyone at the meeting to become involved and inform themselves on their local government and state elections and issues.

“The truth is no one gets involved until they become effected,” Miranda said.

Her statement angered many residents, but having covered several elections when I worked for the El Paso Times, I have to agree with her – no one gets involved or becomes informed until they are directly effected.

The public constantly asks why the media doesn’t cover this issue or that issue – and the fact of the matter is, they generally do cover the majority of the issues – but it’s not showing up on Facebook, so no one knows, or cares to find out on their own.

The best way to inform yourself is to read the local newspaper (in its entirety), watch the local news, listen to NPR or watch the PBS Newshour; and when you have a chance – watch the local city council meetings or school board meetings. Their meetings are recorded and streamed. This is how you can find out about how all the major decisions being made and where your tax dollars are being spent

(Can you tell I’m a news junkie?)

So, yes – go out and vote.

But before you do – inform yourself. For this election, you can Google who is running in our state and local election and you can find out what their platforms are.

Interested in finding out more about the El Paso Independent School District Bond proposal? Google.

Want to know how many candidates are running for Railroad Commissioner, and how their stance could possible affect the construction of the Comanche Trail Pipeline and the Roadrunner Pipeline coming through San Elizario and El Paso County? Google.

Want to see who is on the ballot – simply Google “El Paso Texas Ballot” and a prompt will ask you to enter your complete street address and Google will provide you with a list of all candidates running in the national, state and local elections.

With all this technology at our fingertips – there really is no excuse.

So Google, search, and then go vote. Heck, Google while you wait in line to vote – and become an informed voter.