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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Why are we voting on this?

    Whether it’s criticizing Mike Stoops’ coaching after a game or secretly feeling like we could handle the turbulence better than the pilot on a commercial flight, almost everyone loves to believe he’s an expert.

    In an apparent desire to nurture this conception, the state of Arizona is about to provide a chance for its citizens to officially weigh in on something else they most likely know nothing about.

    When we go to the polls this November, we get to vote for state mine inspector. Expecting the average citizen to vote for this position is an absurd miscarriage of the electoral process.

    We are each experts in the field of what we want and need from our government. This makes Arizona voters eminently qualified to determine who they want representing them as legislators and representatives at the state and national level, as well as gubernatorialy. What this does not mean is that we are qualified to determine the man or woman who should be responsible to oversee mine safety in our state.

    Mining is certainly important in Arizona. But with 9,006 people employed in mining last year, representing 0.36 percent of Arizona’s workforce, it hardly seems reasonable that every voter here needs to have a say in who is chosen as the state mine inspector. Of course, the mine inspector also ensures the safety of all Arizona residents by closing abandoned mines. However, all sorts of appointed and other nonelected officials also ensure our safety, from issues of public health to environmental regulations.

    It makes sense to have the most qualified individual in these important positions, not the most popular one. Our neighbors in New Mexico, like many states, have the right idea in keeping the position of mine inspector a gubernatorial appointee.

    When we vote on the proposition, most of us can only appeal to the crudest knowledge base. We want someone experienced, so we vote for the incumbent. The current mine inspector, Doug Martin, has been in office since 1988 and is leaving because of term limits. He’s only faced one competitive election in his career, because potential candidates for the job know the Herculean task of attempting to oust an incumbent.

    And it seems that Martin has gotten comfortable. His office has been plagued by accusations of financial mismanagement and allegations that more than $105,000 of taxpayer money was spent on things like traffic tickets and charitable donations this year.

    Leaving the state mine inspector’s office with no one to answer to costs Arizona money. So does electing the inspector.

    This may seem like it’s a small issue, but it’s not. Arizona’s popular elections cost money. Counting up the votes for the two men running takes time. And leaving the wrong people in the job can result in the kind of financial mismanagement we’ve seen this year.

    Even more dangerous than the financial mismanagement this election propagates is what it says about the voting process. Encouraging citizens to elect an official to a position that most are utterly unqualified to judge perpetuates the perception that voting is a random activity, and we can’t possibly be expected to be knowledgeable about our choices.

    In the future, we hope to see Arizona’s citizens will vote on what they’re most qualified for, and the position of mine inspector will be an appointed one. It will keep our mines safe, and our polling places respectable.


    Opinions are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Nina Conrad, Lori Foley, Ryan Johnson, Ari Lerner, Nicole Santa Cruz and Matt Stone.

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