Since our beginnings as a nation — in one way or another — Americans have selected leaders through the ballot box. This was true even in colonial times and it continues to be true to this day. Over the past four centuries, in fits and starts, the right to vote has been extended to all Americans regardless of religion, race and gender. More Americans now can vote than ever before in our history but, sadly, many don’t and there’s no excuse for them not doing so.
While the ideal is a registered voter should go in person to the polls and vote on election day, this is not always possible. Even so, there is no reason for them not to participate in choosing the men and women who will lead their city, county, state and nation. Or, as in the case of the June 8 Democratic and Republican primaries, who will carry their party’s standard into the November general election.
The absentee ballot makes it possible for those who, because of illness or work or military service or other reasons cannot make it to the polls in person to nevertheless exercise their liberties and perform their duties as American citizens. The absentee ballot allows these individuals to vote for the candidates of their choice, both in the party primaries and the general election. It allows them to do so regardless of the handicaps they may be facing which would otherwise prevent them from doing their part to select our leaders.
Unfortunately, getting an absentee ballot requires the same thing voting at the polls requires: Effort on the part of the registered voter. Said effort is the result of a realization that as free men and women Americans have the power to choose their leaders and a determination to exercise that power. It is this combination which motivates people not only to vote but to register to vote in the first place, things too many of us fail to do these days.
If you meet all the legal requirements to be a voter then there is no reason not to be registered to vote and not to cast your vote — whether in person or by absentee — when the polls are open. Getting an absentee ballot is not difficult, you can get them from the Union County Voter Registrar’s Office, 320 East Main St., 429-1616. They’ll be more than glad to help you make arrangements to vote absentee.
Time, however, is running out to get an absentee ballot for the June 8 primaries. The latest they can be mailed out is June 4 and they must be returned to the registrar’s office by primary day. Voting absentee at the registrar’s office continues until June 7.
In other words there’s plenty opportunity to vote even if you can’t physically make it to the polls — all it takes is an effort on your part to exercise your rights as an American citizen. If, however, you choose not to make that effort then you forfeit your right to complain about the candidates and public officials selected by those citizens who did make the effort to exercise their rights.
You will have the candidates and the government they want and you’ll have no one to blame but yourself.