There’s a lot of reasons to vote

Published 9:31 am Wednesday, November 2, 2011

One of the problems I occasionally have in writing this column is that, sometimes, what I want to say won’t actually fill up the allocated space.

I’m sure there are some who wish my column took less space, but blank space is apparently frowned upon by those whose business it is to fill the space up.

So, when what I really want to say can be summed up in just a few words or a couple of lines, I have to find a way to stretch it out a little. Today is one of those days.

If I were allowed to write a column this week that were short, sweet and to the point, I would simply say this: Tuesday, Nov. 8, is election day, and everyone who is registered should get up off their tails, go to their polling place and vote.

And that would be it.

It probably wouldn’t be a Pulitzer Prize-winning piece of journalism, but you’d get my point and I’d have saved you some valuable time. But since I’m not allowed to do that, let me give you a few reasons why I think it’s important to vote.

You should vote because:

n It is one of the greatest rights afforded you under the U.S. Constitution. It is one of the greatest individual responsibilities we have as Americans.

n Thousands upon thousands of American service personnel have died defending your right to do so. Not voting is a slap in the face for their service and sacrifice.

n There are many people on this planet who don’t have the right to do so. It is what sets us apart from other nations on earth who suffer under oppressive rule and have no say in their own futures.

n While you may not always be enamored with who you have to choose from on the ballot, not voting makes it that much easier for less talented or qualified candidates to win what amounts to a popularity contest if turnout is low.

n You care about your community. Not voting is the same as standing up and saying you don’t give a rip about the future of our schools, children or economic well being.

n Our government is controlled by the people, not one that controls its people. Not voting sends a message to government that it can do whatever it wants with no repercussions.

n You get one of those cool “I Voted” stickers. I usually keep mine on all day because it makes me feel good for having done my part.

n It sets the right example for a younger generation. Our children will grow up to take an active role in their community because they saw their parents and grandparents get involved and make a difference.

n One person really can make a difference. In 2009, two mayoral races in neighboring Georgia towns were decided by one vote each. Just ask the losing candidates if they think one more vote would have mattered.

n It gives you the right to complain a little when things aren’t being done the way you’d like. If you don’t vote, keep your opinions to yourself for the next couple of years. Your complaining will be an insult to those who made the effort to do something.

There are countless other reasons why you should vote Tuesday, but having reached an appropriate number of words to fill my appointed space on this page, I will leave you with two quotes:

“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves, and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”

—Franklin Delano Roosevelt

“Next Tuesday is election day, and everyone who is eligible and registered to do so should get up off their tails, go to their designated polling place, and vote.”

—Tony Clark

TONY CLARK is the general manager and advertising director at The Tidewater News. He can be reached at