The de­bates are over, now go vote

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

Well, it’s al­most over, folks. In about two weeks, we will have elected a new pres­i­dent of this great coun­try of ours. It seems like this elec­tion sea­son has been go­ing on for an eter­nity, not the year and a half that it has ac­tu­ally been.

And it has been an ugly one. Maybe that is per­haps why it feels like this has been an eter­nally long elec­tion cy­cle. And it could be that there re­ally isn’t much go­ing on lo­cally this year. No one is up for a seat on the board of ed­u­ca­tion, the board of county com­mis­sion­ers or the sher­iff’s of­fice. The Town of La Plata’s elec­tion for a new coun­cil and mayor is next spring and has yet to re­ally kick into gear. There is a cam­paign for congress that is qui­etly fly­ing un­der the radar be­tween long­time 5th Dis­trict in­cum­bent Rep. Steny Hoyer (D) and Repub­li­can chal­lenger Mark Ar­ness, and, at a higher level, the Se­nate race to fill stal­wart Demo­crat Sen. Bar­bara Mikul­ski’s seat be­tween cur­rent 8th Dis­trict Con­gress­man Chris Van Hollen (D) and Kathy Szeliga, a Repub­li­can leader in the House of Del­e­gates.

But on the lo­cal front, it has been rel­a­tively quiet.

Maybe that’s a good thing. The pres­i­den­tial race has whipped the na­tion into a near-con­stant frenzy. Just about daily, those who are fol­low­ing the lat­est elec­tion news have been wait­ing with ra­bid fer­vor over what dirty de­tail might emerge from the me­dia to po­ten­tially dam­age the pres­i­den­tial can­di­date they most op­pose. Will it be an­other batch of emails? An­other das­tardly sex­ual comment? A ques­tion of the can­di­date’s health? An­other law­suit against the can­di­date’s prior busi­ness in­ter­ests?

At this point, there isn’t much out­side of a smok­ing gun and thou­sands of wit­nesses that will change the vot­ing pub­lic’s mind about its can­di­date. But one thing is still left to be done — we still have to vote.

There are fewer things that make us more Amer­i­can than head­ing to the polls to cast our vote for the per­son we view as the most fit to rep­re­sent our ideals, be­liefs and con­vic­tions. Vot­ing is a chance to ex­er­cise our right to be heard, the great­est ex­am­ple of the First Amend­ment that we have.

And, de­spite what some politi­cians will say, the sys­tem is far from rigged. Count­less non­par­ti­san and bi­par­ti­san stud­ies have shown that ac­tual elec­tion fraud sim­ply doesn’t oc­cur and in­stances of sus­pi­cious elec­toral re­sults are minis­cule at best. If we can keep con­victed felons from vot­ing, the sys­tem can’t be that rigged, can it?

Ac­tu­ally, voter ap­a­thy swings more elec­tions than at­tempts to com­mit fraud. Too many peo­ple el­i­gi­ble to vote de­cide to sit at home and think their vote will not sway the out­come of an elec­tion. We won­der if a few hun­dred vot­ers in Florida still think that way af­ter the re­sults of the 2000 elec­tion hung in the bal­ance for weeks.

In 2016, it is eas­ier than ever to get out and vote, with the op­tion to vote early, vote by ab­sen­tee bal­lot or hit the polls through­out the day on Elec­tion Day. Early vot­ing be­gins next Thurs­day, Oct. 27, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the La Plata Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment fire­house at 911 Washington Ave. in La Plata, and at the St. Charles Gle­nea­gles Neigh­bor­hood Cen­ter, 4900 Kirk­caldy Court in Wal­dorf. Early vot­ing will con­tinue daily through Nov. 3. Elec­tion Day it­self is Tues­day, Nov. 8 — mark your cal­en­dar now.

So, do your part as an Amer­i­can — get out and have your voice heard.

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