No excuse for not voting

Published 7:37 pm Friday, October 30, 2009

One of the greatest gifts of living in this society is the opportunity every one of us has to affect change. With every election, large or small, national or local, we have the chance to choose those amongst us to lead us.

But, sadly, far too often those among us with the right to vote make the choice not to. They instead feel they have something more important to do — like go to lunch, mail a letter or stay at home.

On Tuesday, Virginians will be given the opportunity to affect the direction of the state, selecting the leaders to the General Assembly, Senate and Governor’s Mansion. With a single act, which takes no more than 10 minutes, voters will be able to select those who will lead this state through a crucial four years.

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At the end of September, there were 54,630 registered voters in Suffolk, and based on recent trends, more than half of those voters will not vote.

In November 2005, just over 45 percent of the registered voters in Suffolk cast a ballot, and that likely was among the best turnouts in the state. How sad is it that we celebrate the fact that less than half of those who can vote, do.

How sad is it that we celebrate the majority of our community not caring enough to vote?

Have we grown insensitive to the monumental fight so many went through to give us that right? Have we forgotten about the women who protested to earn the right to vote in the 1920s?

Have we forgotten the shocking images of Selma, Ala., during Bloody Sunday?

Those Americans fought for what they were denied: the right to vote. Today, all of us have that right, but today, one out of every two of us chooses to sit it out rather than honor their sacrifice and simply fill out a ballot.

There is a common saying that states “If you do not vote; don’t complain.” If recent trends continue, it should be a relatively quiet couple of years for whoever wins. There won’t be a whole lot of complaining to go around.

On Tuesday, make a statement and cast a vote. It is important for our future that we all have a say in exactly how that future is made.