Thursday, April 28, 2011

It's Official...Almost

Kids, I have big news for you today. While carrying out my daily routine of fetching the mail on my way home from school, I happened upon a letter addressed to me--sent by Greg Bell himself! For those of you silly children who don't know who he is, I will tell you. Greg Bell is none other than the Utah Lieutenant Governor. And he sent me, average little me, my very own letter! Here is what it said:

Dear Future Voter:

Voting is the fundamental expression of our American freedom--The freedom to express our ideas, our opinions, and our feelings through electing our own representatives. It is a grassroots, basic principle that built and has carried this nation for nearly 230 years, and will be the sustaining force for our democracy throughout all time.

I congratulate you on your 18th birthday and encourage you to take this opportunity to register to vote.

Best Wishes,

Greg Bell
Lieutenant Governor

And do you know what I did? I sat down that very minute, filled out the enclosed voting registration form, slapped a stamp on the front, popped that baby into the mailbox, and lifted the flag as a finishing touch. Please notice the below pictures, added for your visual enjoyment.

#67 complete. 

So, it's kind of official. Not only am I now an adult, I am now a registered-to-vote-adult. Didn't I tell you I had big news?

Okay, let's be serious for a moment here. I think we can all agree upon the fact that we have something unique here in America. It is by no means perfect, but hey, neither are we. Not every country guarantees its citizens the ability and the right to vote. We are a part of a very lucky, very blessed few.

Why, then, when the U.S. Census Bureau announced that "among citizens of voting age, 68% were registered to vote in 2006," was it good news? Why is a 48% voter turnout an increase? Don't we realize that there is a good 32% of eligible-to-vote Americans who haven't even registered? And of those who have registered, 20% didn't even vote! 

The census reports, "Among those who did not vote, about 4 out of 10 cited conflicting schedules or illness as reasons. About 2 in 10 were either not interested in voting or did not like the candidates. Other reasons for not voting included being out of town, forgetting to vote, registration problems, inconvenient polling locations, transportation issues and bad weather." Admittedly, some of these reasons are legitimate. You cannot control whether or not illness falls upon you, and we Utahns are fully aware of the fact that you cannot control the weather. (Sometimes it seems the weather can't even control itself.) But let's be real here. You don't like the candidates? Come on. At least vote for the one you dislike less than the others. And you forgot? Really? This should be important enough that it won't just slip your mind in the rush of the day.

Yes, we all know that one single vote will likely never change anything. But if that 52% decided to actually utilize their right, as citizens of the United States of America, that could make a difference. That could make a big difference.

In the end, you can sit here and complain about the people leading our country and the things that they are doing. You can sit here and argue about various bills being passed. You can sit and fantasize and hope and dream, but in the end, nothing will happen if you don't do something. If you don't speak your opinions. If you don't let your voice be heard. If you don't vote.

P.S. This place is a super cool place to go as you prepare to vote. It helps to clear out all the mumbo-jumbo of debating and brings you straight to the points. Be an educated voter.

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