Your vote is your voice

If our state legislature passed a law saying that people living on college campuses could no longer vote, wouldn’t we be incensed? There would be demonstrations and uprisings. Yet many of us eligible voters will never go near the polls on election day.

This week will have the Florida Primary election, and next week will see the Super Duper Tuesday election. Political junkies were enthralled with the process, but were you? The opportunity to vote is a privilege, but voting itself is a duty.

Some may argue that our primaries, which are located long after Super Tuesday, are pointless. But they forget the price so many have paid for suffrage.

In 1870 the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution specified that a citizen’s right to vote could not be denied based on “race, color, or previous conditions of servitude.” Women fought the suffrage battle state by state until finally all were brought in with the Nineteenth Amendment, which granted women the right to vote\ in 1920. Both were hard fought battles. Yet, in just a couple generations, we’ve gone from struggling for the right to vote to struggling to get out the vote. We’ve become apathetic about to going to the polls, especially if it rains.

My goodness it’s only rain. Ours is an amazing country because we have so many rights, but those rights came at a cost.

As people with the right to vote for our leaders, it becomes us to be informed. Former President Ulysses S. Grant said, “All who possess political rights should have the opportunity to acquire the knowledge which will make their share in the government a blessing and not a danger.”

This underscores the weight that one vote carries; we must be informed. Whether your political leanings sway right or left, you need to know more about the candidates than the price of their haircut or which baseball team they’re rooting for. Knowing their slogan or catch-phrase is not enough – what are the specifics? We live in the age of information. There is no excuse to be uninformed. Also, registering to vote has never been easier. The states of Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana all have excellent Web sites, providing step-by-step information on how to register. Kentucky even allows you to print a registration card from the Web site. After sending the completed card to your county clerk, you will receive an acknowledgement card informing you of your voting precinct location. It’s that easy.

Admittedly, there are some practical factors that lead to low voter turnout. For instance, the distance between a students’ college town and home town. Or some may feel overwhelmed about their knowledge of the process once they get to the polls, but that’s why there are poll workers there to give instruction. So, please, don’t let that stop you.

In his book “Profiles of Courage,” President John F. Kennedy said it best, “