Thursday, September 6, 2012

Cast Your Vote: It Does Matter

I was listening to a Michael Baisden radio program yesterday, and heard a 20 year old African American woman tell the show host that she wasn't going to vote in the coming election.  In fact, the caller said she wasn't even registered. While she supported President Barack Obama, she said that her vote didn't matter. The host and his sidekick George Wilborn went back and forth with the caller, recalling those who died to gain the vote for African Americans, and reminding her of how close the 2012 election is forcasted to be. I never heard a valid reason why the caller felt as she did and I felt sorry about her indifference. After the back and forward discussion, the caller promised the host to register and cast her vote in the coming election.

In the last presidential election, out of 206 million eligible voters, 75 million didn't take time to vote.This November, the presidency, every House seat, and 33 Senate seats are up for grabs.  The next president and Congress will make the decisions about our country that will affect Americans for generations. As citizens, each of us has the right to choose who should make those decisions. No matter who you are, no matter how much or how little money you have, no matter what kind of work you do, or what you look like, or where you pray, your vote counts the same as any other American's.

Make a difference
Elections are sometimes won by microscopic margins. If less than 1 percent of the vote had shifted in 11 states, President Kennedy would not have won the 1960 election. Senator Al Franken finally won his seat by 312 votes after nearly eight months of recounts and court challenges that ended in 2009. Of course, the 2000 presidential election was so close that the Supreme Court had to weigh in on Florida's recount.

Value Your Vote
People have died for this right; continue the fight and bleed for it; cross borders, oceans, and steep mountains in pursuit of it. Take a look a a chart on voter turnout by country. You'll see the USA ranks number 20 of the top twenty countries. Interesting also is our rank among those twenty nations where we are at the bottom in murders per million (42 vs. 15), poverty (21% vs 12%), and math score (474 vs high of 520).

Know the rules
The rules for voting can and do change. In the past year 41 states introduced 180 bills that could change the rules. In Pennsylvania, Florida, and Ohio new voter-ID and or registration laws were passed. Law suits are being decided and the decisions on those Court cases will determine who can and cannot vote and what the requirements are for registering to vote and what identification is required at your polling place. Check with your local election board to make sure you are properly registered and that you know where and when you can vote. Make sure you have everything you need to cast your vote. Remind your family and friends to do the same.

Learn All You Can
After labor Day, the campaigns really heat up. It's your chance to learn the candidates' views on important issues.  This year millions of dollars from a variety of sources is funding a media blitz to sway you opinion.  Much of what is being said is untrue when fact-checked by outside sources, so do a little home work and check out what you're being told.

Not only is it your right to vote, it's your responsibility to make the difference.  I hope everyone shows up in droves and that we best 2008's 64 percent. You've earned a say, so make sure your voice is heard.

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