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No excuses: your vote does count

 

A Microvote Infinity voting machineEvery vote matters.

When I first moved to Tennessee, early in 2004, I was barely walking with the aid of crutches. But it was a presidential year: 2004. I did two things as soon as I could: I registered to vote and I got a library card.

It was six months more before I was finally able to move around enough to volunteer at Democratic headquarters. I couldn’t stand up and hold signs, so I brought my folding chair and sat holding up signs at “honk and waves.” I made phone calls, and took phone calls and did odd jobs. I convinced people to register to vote. One was a friend who, at 35+ years of age had never registered to vote. My daughter and I got her registered.

I watched as the battle for Florida ebbed and flowed, finally falling asleep exhausted and dismayed with the questionable Bush victory and the unexpected Kerry concession.

 

My friend had fallen asleep believing a Kerry win was a done deal.

The next morning, I was sitting in the house, discouraged, not wanting to see another newscast of a glowing Bush on every network, when my friend walked in and asked what happened?

“I thought he (Kerry) won,” she said, ranting and venting her disappointment.

Even though our candidate supposedly lost, I asked my friend how it felt to vote.

“I didn’t go,” she said. “I thought he was going to win.” I was in shock; I was angry, dismayed and just plain mad.

“Maybe if you, and all the other people like you who registered, took ten minutes to actually go and cast your vote, he would have won!”

A few days ago on a Clarksville bus, I heard people talking about how they were fed up with the current administration and I heard a voice interjecting “I never vote. Never have, never will.”

I couldn’t help myself. I looked over at the non-voter as I was stepping off the bus and said “maybe if you, and all your friends, and all their friends, voted, you could make a difference.”

We are graced with the right to vote. It is a privilege. It is a responsibility. It is our duty. Some countries don’t have even a shadow of this privilege; their citizens have no choice. A few countries have mandatory voting.

With campaigners on both sides of the political divide offering rides to the polls, and with early voting options allowing you weeks to wait for a sunny, warm day to get out and cast your vote, there’s no excuse not to get to the polls, not to cast your ballot, not to make you voice heard. You could be part of the biggest choir in the country.

As Election Day approaches, I feel waves of change surging, and I am part of that change by virtue of my vote.

If you don’t like the results of Tuesday’s election, and you haven’t bothered to vote, don’t talk to me. I don’t want to hear about your indifference, I don’t want to hear your political rant, I don’t want to hear your whining. I hate waste, and a vote not cast is waste.

Do yourself and your country a favor: if you are old enough to vote, register. Then go out and vote.


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