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Be sure you exercise right to vote Nov. 6

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My Views

By Alex Wimsatt

 With voter turnout so low and the stakes so high, it’s crucial Americans exercise their most basic civic duty in the upcoming general election.

I suppose it’s understandable that turnout among registered voters has been so low in recent years considering apathy abounds and most Americans feel they have more control over the weather than public affairs. 

I’ll admit I’ve felt disenfranchised, that my voice couldn’t make a difference, that the system was broken beyond repair, but there’s no excuse for not voting.

Voting is not simply a right or a privilege, it’s our civic duty. 

When the U.S. Constitution was established in 1787 very few Americans had the right to vote. 

Back then if you weren’t a wealthy white male of a certain age who owned land you couldn’t vote and thus had no voice in American politics. 

Voting was a privilege afforded to the few and those few exercised their right to vote because they realized that the vote meant power, the power to decide who would best represent their interests in elected office.

Today that power is granted to every American over the age of 18, yet not much more than half of the registered voters in the U.S. bothered to take the time to vote in the 2008 general election. 

If this Democratic-Republic, this grand experiment the founding fathers called The United States is to survive, we as Americans must exercise our right to vote or else we risk slipping even further from the ideals this country was founded upon.

So many politicians have fallen deeper into the pockets of special interest groups and corporations and they’ve become so busy trying to keep their jobs they’ve forgotten to actually do their jobs. 

Political pandering and one-upmanship has become more important to Democrats and Republicans than substance or common sense and public policy has become a tool of the game, rather than a mechanism for meaningful change. 

Why? Because we’ve sit idly by and allowed it to happen. 

How can we expect any politician to listen when we send the message that we don’t care what they do, we don’t care how they spend our tax dollars, we don’t care if they’re looking out for their interests or ours, we don’t care if they’re visible or accessible. 

“We don’t care,” is what we’re saying when we don’t vote. 

E Pluribus Unum, translated from Latin as one from many, was more than a phrase when it was emblazoned on the Great Seal of the United States in the late 18th century, it represented the notion that the country was born from many.

Though this idea was perhaps more romantic than fact given that the founders were all rich, white men, the notion has remained and suffrage has been extended to most all American adults (although voting laws vary slightly from state to state).

Women, young adults, blacks and the poor have had to endure great struggles for the right to vote, but they fought the good fight, not necessarily for themselves, but for their descendants. 

And for what? Only 49 percent of registered voters 18 to 24 years old across the U.S. voted in the 2008 general election. The lowest voting rate of any age group. 

Only 66 percent of women voted and only 65 percent of blacks voted. 

Voter turnout among young adults and blacks improved from 2004 to 2008, as did overall voter turnout, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which is encouraging, until you realize that there are still many who are not registered to vote

Whatever your party affiliation or political ideology, whatever your socioeconomic status, whatever your faith or lack-thereof, wherever you live or whatever you do, please do not take for granted the right to vote. 

And, more importantly, be informed.

There are vast resources where you’ll find information about the candidates running for local, state and federal office. 

Not sure where to find information about the candidates? Look to your local newspaper or search the candidates on your Web browser.

If you don’t know who’s on the ballot in Kentucky or where your polling location is, visit the Kentucky Secretary of State’s Web site, www.sos.ky.gov/elections/. 

There you’ll find the names of all the candidates filed across the state for everything from President of the United States (there are several candidates for president on the ballot in Kentucky, not just the two major parties’ candidates) to city council. 

The secretary of state’s Web site also has a wealth of information on everything you could ever want to know about elections, voting and running for office. 

You’ll find the same information at the local level on the Bullitt County Clerk’s site, www.bullittcountyclerk.com. You can also call the clerk’s office at (502) 543-2513.

The clerk’s office can give you all the information you need to know or point you in the right direction, whether you need to know if you’re eligible to vote or just want to find out where you’re polling location is.

The importance of voting cannot be stressed enough. It’s a right and a privilege, but more importantly it’s your duty. 

Do your part. Let your voice be heard.