Valdosta Daily Times

What We Think

November 3, 2012

Why vote?

-- — On Tuesday, the leader of the world’s largest democracy will be decided for the next four years — a decision not to be taken lightly. Already, nearly 40 percent of registered voters in Lowndes County have cast their ballots, and Election Day will most likely see at least another 20 percent or more at the polls.

But why vote? Why do Americans spend so much time and energy on elections? Generally speaking, it’s because we can.

The mere fact that citizens can vote, regardless of race, gender, or religious preference, sets America apart from many nations. Some countries have mandatory voting, with penalties for not casting a ballot. Others color code the ballots and hold the elections in public, ensuring that the electorate is intimidated into voting a certain way. There are countries where women cannot vote, or where those with a religious preference different from the ruling powers are denied that right. The citizens of countries denied the right to elect their leadership envy America, and envy the freedoms Americans enjoy.

Unfortunately, one of those freedoms is also the freedom to not vote, even by those who are registered to do so. Many local elections have been decided by a very slim margin of just a few votes, so those thinking their vote doesn’t matter are wrong in that assumption.

We live in a country where every vote counts; where the basic right to vote has been protected by those who fight to protect our freedoms and liberty.

Don’t waste that precious right. Vote on Tuesday if you haven’t already and exercise a precious freedom that is unknown to much of the world.

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