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Op-Ed: Let your voice be heard

Dawn Burleigh,
General Manager/Editor

Now is the time to register to vote if you are not already.

Being a registered voter is a privilege many in this world do not experience.

It is also a duty, as a citizen, to make the time to cast ones ballot for mayor, council members, school boards and bond issues. This November, this also includes the presidential ballot.

It all starts at the local level. The people selected for the seats are the ones who live here as your neighbors and are seen in the grocery stores. They are the ones who help see us through the storms and the clean up afterwards.

They are the ones picking up trash, fighting for a better community and are passionate about this place we all call home.

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.

Early voting will begin soon and in order to have your voice heard, you must register to vote now.

In recent elections, we have seen a larger than normal number of voters at the polls. This is a trend we should continue to encourage and hope to see repeated during this election.

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 ‘racecolor, 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.

To help educate the voters so they can make the best choice for who they think is best, The Orange Leader will continue with the tradition of publishing letters of introduction for candidates to run on the Opinion page as submitted. This allows voters an opportunity to learn more about each candidate so citizens can make an informed decision when they are at the polls.

We would like to hear from those running for School Boards, City Councils, Drainage District and more.

Letters should be approximately 550 words and the candidate will need to submit a photo and the article in digital format to dawn.burleigh@orangeleader.com

 

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