2006-11-01 / Editorials


Be Part Of Democracy--Vote Next Tuesday

Next Tuesday all good citizens who are registered to vote will be offered the privilege of choosing their elected representatives. For the first time in 12 years we will elect a new governor. We will elect New York's chief law enforcement officer, otherwise known as the attorney general, and the state's chief financial officer, the comptroller. Contests for the United States Senate, Congress and both houses of the New York state legislature will also be decided by the voters.

The physical act of voting is easier than ever. Polling places are conveniently

located and ubiquitous. The polls are

open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.-more than ample time to fit with anyone's schedule. Those who cannot get to a polling place for whatever reason can request an absentee ballot. There's no reason for any registered voter in New York City, the county of Queens or the state of New York not to participate.

That said, we fail to comprehend why every new election seems to draw fewer voters than the previous one. The primary election in September racked up some of the lowest numbers ever recorded. Granted, primary elections are usually partisan and may not take place in every district or voting precinct, but we can't help feeling that the primary turnout presaged lower numbers of voters casting their ballots in the general election next Tuesday. We find this deplorable.

We have said it before in this space and we'll say it again: voting is a privilege and the United States is one of the few countries on earth in which great efforts have been made to make the privilege nearly universal. In too many other places, sham campaigns and mock elections are held only to put a veneer of democratic legitimacy on a totalitarian regime. The voters "elect" a leader because he is the single candidate on the ballot. Anyone who votes the wrong way or who refuses to play the game by not voting at all is in serious trouble. And many countries don't bother with even a sham democratic process. The line of succession is hereditary and immutable or else someone connives or murders his way to the top spot and stays there by means of intimidation and strong-arm tactics. This is about as far from the democratic process as it's possible to be and still stay on the same planet.

We don't deny that this concept of selfgovernment we call democracy isn't perfect in this city, this state or this country. But we'll certainly take our system over any other anywhere in the world. That being the case, we can't for the life of us understand why so many people regard Election Day with indifference. Beating the same drum as we have in this space before, we reiterate: anyone who can follow a sports team can follow the issues. Anyone sufficiently intrigued by a celebrity to amass minutiae on that celebrity's life and work, whoever that celebrity may be, can certainly find enough information about a candidate to decide whether that person deserves their vote. And considering how far-reaching the results of an election, any election, can be, we find it astonishing that too many people don't bother to register, let alone vote.

One person's vote alone may not seem especially significant. Once added up, however, votes can bring about some surprising and significant results. Don't pass up the chance to make a difference in your life or that of anyone you care about. On Election Day 2006, November 7, cast your vote. Make your voice heard.

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