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If our lawmakers passed a law saying that green-eyed people could no longer vote, wouldn’t we be incensed? All green-eyed people would rise up in protest, and I among them. There would be demonstrations in the streets. Yet many of us, who are eligible to vote, will never go near the polls on Election Day. The turnout for Grant County for our primary election was only around 25 percent.
In 1870, the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution specified that a citizen’s right to vote could not be denied based on “race, color, or previous conditions of servitude.” Women fought the suffrage battle state by state, until finally all states were brought in with the 19th Amendment, in 1920. These were hard fought battles. Yet, in just a couple of generations, what has happened to us? We’ve become apathetic about going to the polls, and especially if it rains—oh, my goodness, it’s only rain. Ours is an amazing country because we have so many rights, but those rights came at a cost. This was never clearer to me than when I attended this year’s Memorial Day celebration at the Kentucky Veterans Cemetery North in Williamstown.
I watched the Veterans straggle in, some pushing walkers, many with caps representing their branch of service, many offering a still-sharp salute, all solemn and respectful of the occasion and the hallowed ground where we stood.
The speaker, Sgt. Major Monty Lash, had one more challenge for these aged warriors, “I encourage you to talk about your service.”
It is typical for these veterans to shy away from talking about their service. Many who served in wars, just try to forget. Secondly, they’re not the kind of people who like to talk about themselves.
However, according to Lash, fewer young people are drawn to military service and only 25 percent of American families shoulder the burden of defending freedom. He thinks if Vets talk about their experiences and their sense of service and sacrifice, it would induce other’s to answer the call.
This underscores our obligation to at least vote and the weight that one vote carries. We must vote, but we must be informed.
Ulysses S. Grant said, “All who possess political rights should have the opportunity to acquire the knowledge, which will make their share in the government a blessing and not a danger.”
Whether your political leanings sway right or left, you need to know more about the candidates than their superficial slogan or catch-phrase. In this age of information; there is no excuse for us to be uninformed and registering to vote has never been easier. Kentucky has an excellent Web site, www.elect.ky.gov/, giving step-by-step information on registering to vote. It allows you to print a registration card. You can then send the completed card to your county clerk, who will send an acknowledgment card informing you of the location of your voting precinct. It’s that easy, but there are deadlines.
You may feel insecure about your knowledge of the process, but once you get to the polls, workers are there to give you instructions.
In his book “Profiles of Courage,” President John F. Kennedy said it well, “…in a democracy, every citizen, regardless of his interest in politics, holds office; every one of us is in a position of responsibility; and, in the final analysis, the kind of government we get depends upon how we fulfill those responsibilities.”
Hope to see you at the polls.
(Linda Lawrence is the editorial assistant for the Grant County News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)