10/22/05 — Voter participation is vital to making democracy work

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Voter participation is vital to making democracy work

Early, one-stop voting is off and running in North Carolina this week, with the actual Election Day still more than a week and a half away.

And while there won’t be many issues or races on the ballot Nov. 8, those who live in Mount Olive might want to pay attention — they will be choosing several leaders this time around.

And in Pikeville, residents will choose a mayor and a couple of commissioners, and will decide if they want to approve malt beverage and unfortified wine propositions.

So, there is reason to get out and vote if you live in either of these areas — or in Eureka and Seven Springs, which are also choosing mayors and some commissioners.

The Village of Walnut Creek will pick three councilmen, and there are several sanitary district boards that have seats up for grabs this fall.

So, while there are no big issues for those who live in other areas of the county to consider this time, that is no reason not to pay attention to anything on Election Day.

The problem with elections is that even if there were some major countywide, all-important issue on the ballot this time around, there would still be thousands of people in Wayne County who wouldn’t be eligible or inclined to vote at all.

Lack of voter participation is not a new problem, nor is it confined only to North Carolina. Across the country, registration rates are still down and many people who do register do not even bother to cast a ballot, even when the card includes the race for president of the United States.

This Election Day is a good time to register yourself if you have let it lapse, or to sign someone else up and offer him or her a ride to the polls for the next election. The more people we have participating in the process, the more likely we are to have a government that is not only representative of our interests, but responsive to our suggestions as well.

Lawmakers who know they have to convince voters they deserve to keep their jobs every few years are more likely to listen more closely to what those constituents have to say.

Democracy that is left only in the hands of a few is not truly representative. Voting is a responsibility and a right that must be cherished and protected.
Choosing the direction of our country and our government is a privilege that is a rarity in many places around the world.

Making sure we protect and utilize that right to its fullest safeguards that freedom not only for this generation, but for those to come.

Published in Editorials on October 22, 2005 11:27 PM