We all have friends, acquaintances, neighbors — even family members — who like to pontificate ad nauseum on the state of the nation and our elected officials. According to them, we’re all going to hell in a handbasket. These windbags moan and groan about virtually all things political, and yet we often find most of them didn’t even bother to vote.
What a load of horse manure!
Voting is a privilege and responsibility in a democratic society. Yes, our election system can certainly be improved upon, and there are no perfect candidates. But it’s essential that we educate ourselves and employ critical thinking to discern who will best represent us and our interests.
We’ve all been through elections where we had to hold our noses and pick someone we really didn’t like all that much, but sadly there are many Americans who use that as an excuse to stay home and not vote.
Admittedly, there are some people who have very real issues when it comes to voting regarding registration, voter ID laws or a criminal record. But for others of us — not so much.
How many of these “reasons” have you heard?
“The system’s rigged.”
“My vote doesn’t matter.”
“I didn’t register in time.”
“I don’t know who to vote for.”
“According to the exit polls, my vote isn’t needed.”
“I have to work.”
“I’m too busy.”
Good Lord, folks, voting has never been easier for most of us. We don’t even have to go to the polling place anymore, if we vote by mail. The deadline to request a mail-in ballot was Oct. 31; however, you can still stop by any Supervisor of Elections office and get one printed. Your completed ballot must be back in the office no later than 7 p.m. Election Day, Nov. 6.
Contrary to what you may have heard, you cannot drop off your completed mail-in ballot at your polling place Election Day. You can, however, bring it with you and a poll worker will cancel it and give you an Election Day ballot, so you can vote in person.
Early voting (from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.) started Oct. 22 and will be ongoing through Nov. 4. So if you know in advance that you can’t go to your polling place on Election Day, voting early is a no-brainer. Visit www.votehillsborough.org, or call 813-612-4180 for early voting locations.
Of course, many folks vote on the big day itself. As long as you’re standing in line at 7 p.m., you’re allowed to vote.
Donald Trump won the last presidential election with fewer than 80,000 votes in three states. While more than 58 percent of eligible voters went to the polls, a whopping 42 percent did not. Millions of Americans stayed home.
That’s unconscionable in my book.
No matter how you cut it, voting determines winners and losers. And more importantly, it determines policies and laws affecting us all.
Anyone who thinks otherwise needs a gut check. As far as I’m concerned, people who fail to vote have no right to opine on the affairs of this country. They simply need to shut the heck up.
Lois Kindle is a freelance writer and columnist for The Observer News. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.