Just how much is your vote worth?

Quoting a great philosopher Cyndi Lauper, “Money changes everything.”

Nothing in that proverb should be taken to heart more than the recent pay raises and health care promises made by Gov. Justice to state employees. Hundreds of millions of dollars to be spent with the understanding that money is a crucial determinant of whether or not a politician will be reelected.

After watching Gov. Justice give his State of the State Address, I began wondering.

Why couldn’t I sell my vote to another candidate?.

I know it sounds like a silly question, but considering the numerous dubious aspects of West Virginia elections, why is vote buying confined to select special interest groups?

I can’t tell you how ashamed I am of our politicians, and their failed policies. I didn’t think they could sink any lower. I was wrong. Elections in West Virginia has always meant a certain amount of vote buying would happen, undercover and shameful, but always present and always approved.

Jim Justice just proved that it is possible to openly steal an election, if you know the right way to go about it. By bribing people two years in advance to heading to the polls to vote.

The first vote buying I ever witnessed was in the small coal mining camp I grew up in. The price paid just a few pennies for a small bottle of liquor for the men and a candy bar for the women. And then as time went on, $5 and a ride in a big black car.

The price of one bona fide registered West Virginian vote has always varied from place to place. But until now was rarely more than a few bucks.

When Gov. Justice spouted that children are our greatest blessing, he was correct. They come into the world innocent and pure. As they grow, they look to adults for guidance.

Unfortunately, children today are treated to the worst in human behavior. Every day they witness incivility, boorish behavior, man’s inhumanity toward his fellow man and a lack of integrity among leaders, who lie and use deceit to gain and hold onto power and prestige, country be damned.

Folks, selling your vote might be considered something of a windfall, like an income tax refund, a small benefit that could be counted on anytime there is an election. Presumably, all that money will buy somebody an election.

In reality, though, Lauper isn’t quite right. In a few years all that money will be woefully inefficient. Governor, if money is buying the next elections, you wildly overpayed for a race you were going to win anyway.

All of this has implications for you and those future politicians.

I recently read that more than half of all millennials would give up their right to vote in exchange for having their student loans wiped out. Mock them if you want, I bet most of us would sell that right for far less.

Some might say that paying for votes is obviously and inherently corrupt. Period. However I think that is clearly only the case, if candidates used public money to buy votes. As Gov. Justice just did.

The only thing the governor’s action advanced was his own personal brand of politics.

It is well past time for all of our elected officials to stop playing politics with our children’s futures, start demonstrating leadership and ensure a child’s education isn’t determined by political whims.

When you vote for a candidate promising you free stuff, you’re selling your vote. You’re stealing from fellow taxpayers and the future of our children and grandchildren to boot!

I say this plan to legitimately rig the next election has to be stopped. It is not only time to encourage voters to say enough is enough and ensure that no matter what happens we are protecting our state by not allowing vote buying.

Whatever your opinion; for me, no matter the situation, my vote is not for sale!

Good Day!

Robert Ware

French Creek