The 2018 General Election is significant. On Tuesday, November 6, Michiganders will select a new Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, and two members of the Michigan Supreme Court. The outcome will also determine majority control in the Michigan Legislature, along with prominent positions at the local, statewide, and federal levels. Voters will also be asked three ballot questions:
- Proposal 1: should recreational marijuana use and growth be legalized in the state?
- Proposal 2: should Michigan reform its redistricting process?
- Proposal 3: should voter registration and other voting processes be revised?
While these races and questions will hopefully motivate voters to cast their ballots, it is important to note that Catholics are called to engage in the public realm and the voting process throughout the year, even in “off-year” elections. Voting choices have a sizeable impact on local communities. Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) encourages those who may have yet to do so to register to vote before October 9 to participate in the upcoming election. To check your registration status and polling location, visit https://michigan.gov/vote.
In preparation for the election, it is important to stress the role our individual consciences play in voting decision. The U.S. bishops, in Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship (FCFC), write that our conscience is a tool from God, one which helps us know truth, do good, and avoid evil. The onus is on each person to participate in ongoing conscience formation and to ensure reliable and accurate information is considered. We do this by studying the teachings of our faith, reflecting upon relevant experiences and facts, and praying with openness before choices are made.
Each Catholic is responsible for the moral decisions he or she makes. The Catholic Church does not, however, leave people of faith to wade through difficult decisions alone. Instead, she provides rich teachings to reflect upon and apply to current issues, including Scripture, documents from Church leaders, and the principles of Catholic social teaching. The formation process challenges traditional political lines to ensure we are focused on the defense of human life and dignity and the protection of the weak and vulnerable. Catholics can and should work—within daily actions, votes, and advocacy—to establish a community that uplifts the dignity of all people throughout their entire life. These and more specific questions for candidates are included in MCC’s September FOCUS publication: The Issues, the Candidates and Your Vote. This document, along with a wide range of additional information regarding the November General Election, can be found at www.micatholic.org/Election2018. (Available Monday, October 1, 2018. —Ed.)
The October FOCUS publication will feature opposition to Proposal 1 from Michigan’s bishops and the full MCC Board of Directors. Citing the harm legalized marijuana could cause for Michigan families, its impact on personal health, and how it affects the broader community—the MCC Board and the state’s bishops are urging a No vote on Proposal 1. Information is also available for Proposal 2 and Proposal 3 at the website mentioned above.
With only a few weeks left until the November 6 General Election, Catholics across Michigan have the opportunity to think about what, ideally, they would want their communities to look like. What policies would need to be implemented to achieve that goal? How would the value of each person be upheld, and how would community success be fostered? The answers to these questions, when compared to candidate positions, can help inform voting choices.
This year, let’s do our best to bring our voices to the political process, guided by a well-formed conscience and a concern for the value and dignity of every human person.