Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Local News

November 6, 2012


EFFINGHAM —     Today is the most important day of the year for most American citizens over the age of 18: Election Day. And sadly, if history repeats, most of those eligible will ignore it.

    There is nothing more powerful than the ability to cast a vote in a democracy. It’s something many take for granted. From those who fail to register to vote to those who are registered but don’t exercise their right, the non-voters in the United States are people who are throwing away their future and the future of everyone else who lives and works here.

    In the U.S., voting is a right. But it’s also a privilege. Living in a free society in which we can choose who will make decisions that affect everything is something that most people worldwide are not able to enjoy.

    Don’t be fooled by polls. Don’t be fooled by political party registrations. And most important, don’t be fooled by the notion that individual votes are meaningless.

    Every vote counts. Elections throughout our nation’s history have been decided by very few votes and sometimes by a single vote. The only reason it might appear that a single vote doesn’t matter is that too few of those eligible to make a choice do so. If they did, more elections would be much closer in their outcome.

    If you aren’t registered to vote, it’s too late. The time has passed to register for this election. But this message is just as much for you who aren’t registered as it is for those who have their voting card in hand.

    We, as a society, have made it easy to register as voters. We’ve also made it easy to cast votes. Early voting to eliminate long lines on Election Day and fit individual schedules has become more popular.

    Can’t be in town at all during early voting or on Election Day? Unable to leave your residence because of disabilities or other reasons? We’ve got you covered there, too. Absentee ballots count just as much as the ones cast right here in central Illinois. There’s simply no longer any excuse for not taking five minutes to make a selection that will affect your life for years.

    Those who aren’t registered and could be, go today, get a form, and in a few minutes, you’ll be registered. Yes, it won’t count this year, but you’ll be taking the first necessary step toward participating in our greatest American right.

    But don’t make your decision lightly. It might take a few minutes to make your mark, but the implications of those choices can last indefinitely. Be informed voters. Check your options for candidates. Consider what you believe, and match it to what you want to see.

    Don’t pull a straight party option; that cheapens the process. Choose wisely. And if you don’t like who you see on the ballot, and you know someone who has registered to run as a write-in candidate and like what he or she represents, by all means, write that name in.

    If you live in Effingham County and vote, you’ll choose a new state’s attorney, a new coroner, a new circuit clerk and several new county board members. You’ll decide if incumbents on the board deserve to stay or must go. You’ll get a choice about how much you like several judges and vote for an appellate judge. You’ll have the chance to choose who represents you in federal and state legislative bodies. You’ll select a regional school superintendent.

    In Beecher City, you’ll get to decide if alcohol can freely flow. You’ll decide if your town should supply your electricity, even if it won’t affect you directly. You’ll have the opportunity to tell the state of Illinois that you like the idea of changing the rules on increasing public pensions, or want them to stay the same for now. And you’ll decide if Barack Obama will get a second term in office or if Mitt Romney will take the lead in the White House.

    If you live outside Effingham County, you’ll see a variety of offices, questions and options on your ballots. They are too numerous to mention here. But one thing you’ll find is that several offices have no opposition, and some have no candidates vying for the job.

    Don’t ignore those. Choose the sole candidate if you agree, or write in someone if you know someone has registered as a write-in candidate. For the empty seats, find out what you need to do to get them filled. The only thing worse than poor representation is no representation at all.

    If you need help, there are several options. You can visit our state’s election website, which is available at http://www.elections.state.il.us. There you’ll find information on how to vote, where to vote and what to do in special situations. You can call your local county clerk/recorder’s office. In Effingham County, that’s 217-342-6535; Shelby County,  217-774-4421; Cumberland County, 217-849-2631; Fayette County, 618 283-5000; Jasper County, 618-783-3124; Clay County, 618-665-3626; and Marion County, 618-548-3855.

    Also, keep in mind that redistricting has changed many polling places. If you live in Effingham County, you can see a list of where you need to vote on our website, at http://www.effinghamdailynews.com. Outside Effingham County, check out the state’s election website or call your clerk’s office if you still aren’t sure.

    We at the Daily News hope that 100 percent of eligible voters in our coverage area vote in one of the many ways you can. Send your message this year, and send it every year the option is available.

    Otherwise, the decisions you let someone else make on your behalf could make you unhappy for years to come.

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