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Exercise the right to vote

Editorial by Dawn Burleigh

 

Everyone is talking politics these days: Presidential, County, School Boards.

At this time, City Council Elections are underway. Early Election began on Monday and will continue thru May 3. Election Day is Saturday, May 7.

Traditionally, such elections have a low turnout. One’s representative on the local level should be just as important if not more important than the national level.

In order to make a change, one must start at home, such as local government.

At one time, it was considered an honor and a civic duty to serve the local community such as serving on a board or on the city council. It was never meant to be a career choice, as it has become at the national level where senators and congressmen run unopposed for decades. Yes, decades.

The City of Orange had the foresight to prevent career politics by setting term limits when writing the city charter.

To file for a place on the ballot, residents had to file between Jan. 20, 2016 and Feb. 19, 2016. During the filing, four persons filed. Wayne Guidry, incumbent, filed for Single Member District 2, and Bill Mello, incumbent, filed for At Large Place 5.

Mary McKenna, incumbent, and former council member Annette Pernell filed for Single Member District 4.

Since Guidry and Mello were the only ones to file for those positions, the City Council Election is for District 4 between McKenna and Pernell.

As citizens demand better government, and better representation in local government, voters need to turn out in droves to vote in the election.

To not vote, shows a lack of caring for one’s community. To become part of a solution to grow Orange, one must participate. A start is to use one’s right as a citizen of the United States to get out and vote in each election held.

Servicemen across the ages have given the ultimate sacrifice to allow citizens the right to vote. Young men and women died to allow us the freedom to decide who we want to represent us in our government. Some may argue a vote is useless; it is not at a local level. We do not have delegates to decide for us, we have our vote. A vote does make a difference.

Women gained the right to vote on August 18, 1920 when the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was approved. Women were beaten, jailed and shamed to give us the right, not a privilege, a right to go to the polls and cast our ballot.

While the 15th Amendment prohibits the federal and state governments from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen’s ‘race, color, or previous condition of servitude,’ it took the Voting Rights Act of 1965, to provide federal oversight of elections in discriminatory jurisdictions, banned literacy tests and similar discriminatory devices, and created legal remedies for people affected by voting discrimination.

Again, people were killed so we could have the right to vote today. Do not let their sacrifice be in vain. Make the time to vote during the early election 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. weekdays from April 25 – May 3 at the Orange Public Library at 220 North 5th Street in Orange. A 12- hour day will be held from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. on May 3.

On Election Day, the polls will be open from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. on May 7 at West Orange Stark Middle School located at 1402 West Green Ave. in Orange.

Take a friend, ask a neighbor if they need a ride, and get out and vote.

 

Dawn Burleigh is editor of The Orange Leader. She can be reached at dawn.burleigh@orangeleader.com