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Americans once again will exercise one of their most important rights and responsibilities. Millions will cast votes to decide who will serve in elected offices at every national, state and local level.
Sadly, over the years fewer and fewer Americans have actively participated in this most American of duties. Many election outcomes are determined by far less than half the eligible voters.
Why do so many choose to stay home? As someone who has voted in every election since I was 18, I can only tell you what people have told me when explaining their refusal to vote. Many express disappointment in the caliber of their options, some have become cynical about everyone who serves in office and others simply think their single vote does not matter.
As far as limited options are concerned, my experience is that folks who express that complaint usually don’t know much about either candidate — let alone what they have done or what they stand for.
Our founders’ great faith in the American electorate was based on the assumption that we would be “well-informed citizens.” I wholeheartedly agree that it is difficult at times to cut through the bluster and bluff to learn what candidates really stand for — and what they have really done. Some do everything they can to muddy the water on what they have done in office; a few don’t even know what they stand for in the first place.
But, just as I would never buy a car without researching the safety statistics, the maintenance record and the long-term cost of owning a particular vehicle, I am serious about learning about the candidates who offer to serve me in elected office.
Regarding the idea that too many who serve in office are misleading or self-serving, that idea unfortunately has proven true at times. Yet, there are selfless folks who serve for the greater good — and often at great personal cost and inconvenience. They do not become rich while in office but simply keep their word and serve honorably. And, if you don’t feel you are being served honorably, I would encourage you to run and be the kind of elected official everyone deserves.
Finally, it has been proven time and time again that every vote really does matter.
The key to victory in most elections is “voter turn-out” — meaning getting enough folks to show up and support a given candidate. And, a single vote has led to victory.
In 1876, one vote made Rutherford B. Hayes our 19th president. In 1941, one vote kept the Selective Service open, just a few weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbor. And in 1990, one vote decided a state House race in Michigan.
Every vote does count in America and Franklin Roosevelt was right when he said, “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”
So, between now and Nov. 6, take the time to learn about the candidates. Research their records, discover what they promise to do in the future and determine whether they have kept their word in the past. Find the person who reflects your values and deserves your support.
And then, go to the polls and exercise the right countless Americans have died to preserve and most of the world still envies: Vote.
And having done so, rest confident in the sentiment expressed by President John Quincy Adams: “Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”
Tim Moore, a Republican from Elizabethtown, serves the 26 th District in the state House of Representatives. He is unopposed on the Nov. 6 ballot.