As a member of the 45% minority of eligible Vermont citizens who actually turned out to vote on November 4th, I can sympathize with the 55% majority of no-shows; but only to a point. Yes, the choices presented by the Democrats and Republicans for Vermont’s highest office were not very inspiring. When Legislators reconvened to select a Governor they were presented with the same lackluster choices that Vermont citizens faced.
But voting is a “right” granted to American citizens, while not always the case in other countries. Those that serve our nation in the military are often regarded as “defending our freedoms”, and this includes the right to vote. Sadly, the right to vote does not always also include the right to good choices to select from.
The main point I want to convey is “Use it or lose it”. If we don’t vote, despite the choices put forth by the Donkey and Elephant parties, we may someday no longer retain this right. Or, if we still hang on to the right to vote, the two major political parties might someday be even less concerned about putting forth good candidates.
Since 1984, I have not missed voting in a single election. The election of 1980 was what ingrained this habit in me.
When I graduated from high school, the voting age was 21. When I transferred from a community college to Michigan State University in September 1979, voting was the last thing on my mind. I was focused on my classes, navigating around a huge campus, and of course, a social life. A short time before the 1980 election, I discovered that even though I had been a citizen of Michigan my entire life, I could not vote in East Lansing. As my parents had not attended college, they were unaware of such local laws which prevent students from exercising their right to vote for President and state Governor. When I first heard about an “absentee ballot”, it was too late to apply for one. Going home on a weekday to my hometown’s government office in person was not a convenient option, but it was already too late.
At that point I was 22 years old, even though by then Congress had changed the voting age to 18. So for the first possible election I could participate in, I was not able to vote. Hence, since that experience, I have dutifully shown up in the voting booth, or requested an absentee ballot if necessary.