Why Vote?

A newer jumper asked me recently at the DZ “Why should I really care about USPA?  What does it really do for me?” (I’m paraphrasing, but that was the general jist of his question).  He understood some of the key benefits – including the 3rd party liability insurance, and the management of licenses and ratings, but he really was genuinely curious about what USPA did for him and why he should really care.

I admit that I wasn’t as prepared for that question as I should have been, though in my usual fashion I was able to ad lib a pretty good answer – I spoke of the USPA’s role in allowing the sport to be self-governed, and about its role in keeping skydivers in the air and dropzones operating.   But most of the questions I’ve been asked so far have been from people who are interested in figuring out why they should vote for me – they’re already thinking about voting (though it might be because I stuck a ballot in their hand and asked if they’ve voted yet) and don’t have to be motivated to get into the election game.

But with 10% voter turnout in past years, it’s clear there’s some disconnect going on.  I know that I didn’t vote during my first year as a USPA member.  In 2004, I had just joined the Association, was still a student, and had maybe 10 jumps under my belt.  It just didn’t seem relevant, and I would have had no clue where to start in thinking about who to vote for.

In recent years it’s become more and more relevant to me.  I can throw out some general reasons why it’s important to vote, but ultimately – you need to come up with why it’s important to you.  Find your issue(s), and find the candidate(s) who are of a similar mind.  The main reason, though, is that the board are your representatives.  The USPA may be little more to you than that organization you have to pay every year to keep jumping, but it’s still your organization.  It’s not (or shouldn’t be, anyway) a bunch of people unrelated to you or your interests off in a distance place making decisions.  By voting, you’re sending a message that the board needs to pay attention to the electorate.  And to me, that’s the most important reason to vote.

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