I cast my ballot for the Nov. 3 election today.
As I did, I couldn’t help but feel it was the most important ballot I ever submitted.
I was too young to vote when the charismatic John Fitzgerald Kennedy made a campaign appearance at Marquette University before he was elected to the presidency in 1960. But as a journalism student, I was there in the audience of cheering, enthusiastic folks, most of whom could already vote. I remember being caught up in the excitement of the electric magic of his visit and hardly remembering to take notes as I had been assigned.
I never had the chance to vote for him; his assassination and the alleged killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, robbed me of that opportunity. But his message of hope and the idea of Camelot introduced me to the real worlds of politics and promises. My first election opportunity saw the contest between Barry Goldwater (remember him?) and Lyndon Baines Johnson. I think my family were Republicans but I honestly don’t remember which of those two candidates I chose for my important first ballot. I have since set out on my own political paths of decision-makings.
So now it is time to make important electoral choices once again. From the highest offices in the land to the ones closer to home; officials are to be replaced or re-elected. Do you like what they do, what they say they believe, what they say they hope to accomplish? Whether it is at the national or local level, those are the questions electors must ask themselves. What is most important to you as a voter; is it accountability, transparency, reachability, efficiency, creativity, communication, honesty?
For me, the issue of honesty is one of the most important. The others are so important to me as well but I believe if a candidate is honest, the other assets will follow. I have a dear, longtime friend who has given up on politics; she maintains “If their mouths are moving, they are lyingl” What a terribly sad indictment of today’s world. We have the democratic privilege of choosing our leadership and yet, how many citizens don’t vote at all? Why is that?
We have good turnout in Franklin County when elections come to us. We can be proud of that, for sure! Sadly, our census turnout was not nearly as good, and we will pay for that shortfall for the next decade. On one hand, I understand the local suspicions some folks have, but on the other hand, a 33 percent completion will hurt our governmental, school and community aid for the next decade to come. Let your voice be heard in the important census count before it is too late.
So have you studied or filled out your election ballot as yet? Early voting starts Oct. 19 and the excellent folks at the supervisor of elections office will answer any question about voting you can think up. Or they may direct you to additional resources for answers on judicial and amendment questions. Did you know the Florida League of Women Voters, and the Bar Association can help with questions about issues and candidates? Don’t know about the judicial retentions? Wonder about the amendment to raise the minimum wage or to require amendment suggestions to pass voter approval twice, not once, as now? Don’t throw up your hands in confusion or despair; seek out the answers you need to make your best decisions on candidates and issues too.
It has been a long time since I have felt that first excitement of the Kennedy campaign appearance at my university. Sometimes I don’t like any candidates seeking my vote. Sometimes I don’t like the system at all and want to ignore the opportunity to vote. But we can’t ever do that. We must never ignore our right to fill out the ballot to which we are entitled as a privilege of our democracy. Too busy? Vote early. Too tired or infirm or afraid of a crowd? Vote absentee. Turn in that ballot at the Carrabelle annex, or in Apalachicola at the supervisor of elections office on Avenue F, or let the post office carry it safely for you. Did you hear that Texas is only allowing one elections drop box per county, and their largest county has more than 6,000 square miles?
So it shouldn’t be too difficult to vote in Franklin County. Whether you chose to vote as a Republican or as a Democrat, a Green Partier or an Independent, your vote will make the difference in our next years to come. Don’t like the Electoral College system? Then get your friends to vote in large numbers so those delegate electors can’t ignore the popular voices from their states. Think your vote won’t count? Yes, indeed it will. History has proven that fact.
Remember the wise words of philosopher Jung; “I am not what has happened to me. I am what I chose to become.” Chose your future.
This article originally appeared on The Apalachicola Times: Letter: Choose your future, by voting