Voting is a right. Voting is the key to preserve our Democracy. Only the citizens of the U.S. can vote for the leaders, representatives, laws and regulations that make the United States the model for Democracy throughout the world.
To protect the integrity and anonymity of your vote, a secret ballot is used. It is a confidentiality that your fellow citizens who run the election process work diligently to preserve. The right to vote is, in and of itself, nonpartisan. As citizens, we get the right to choose the leaders and representatives who we believe will best address our concerns. Additionally, we often have the opportunity to vote on referendums and commonwealth constitutional amendments that will affect all of us in Virginia.
In Virginia, voters do not register by party; any citizen who is 18 years or older by Election Day can register and vote in any primary or election. Any commonwealth citizen can choose to run as a candidate. Candidates can seek the endorsement of a political party or they can run as an independent or even as a write-in candidate.
So many have sacrificed to preserve and protect our Democracy, yet too few take the time to demonstrate how that Democracy actually works through the voting process. It is a shame that many elections have only a small number of voters who make the effort to vote. Yet that is just what happens. Rarely do more than 30 to 40% of the registered voters choose who will represent or lead their community. In some local elections less that 20% of the registered voters take the time to vote.
Sadly, many who could register don’t or haven’t. Getting young people to register to vote is extremely important. Registering to vote should be considered an important right of passage. It is a step toward affirming maturity. Our republic believes that when one is 18 years old one is mature enough to make the decisions as to who our representatives and leaders should be. It should be an honor to get to vote.
In the past too many have been denied the right to vote. Even now, certain individuals and groups work to prevent or discourage some of our fellow citizens from voting. We hope that by discussing the process, more folks will realize how important it is to vote and how we must all work to ensure that all commonwealth citizens 18 years old and older can be eligible voters and all have the right to vote.
Every citizen should consider voting not only a right, but a privilege and obligation. From the Civil Rights era to Women’s Suffrage to constitutional amendments created to remove barriers to prevent citizens from voting, the majority of American’s are able to exercise this freedom because someone fought for it. Your vote is your voice — use it.
Join us Sept. 19, as special guests, Lisa Jeffers, director of elections/registrar, and Robert Horowitz, secretary of the Waynesboro Electoral Board, discuss “The Crisis of Elections: Myths Debunked and the Future Revealed.” They will discuss how an election is run, when, where and how we vote, what are the threats to fair elections, the challenge of holding at least four, probably five, election cycles (four elections, one primary in the works and one primary, yet to be determined) from Nov. 5, 2019, through Nov. 3, 2020, and redistricting for 2021.
This is the latest in our “Community Conversations” series at 6:30 at the Waynesboro/Augusta County Democratic Committee Headquarters in Willow Oak Plaza. These discussions are held to spark conversations in our community about issues that affect us all. As always, the event is free, open to the public, and all are welcome regardless of political affiliation.
Tiffany Potter is an occasional columnist for The News Virginian.