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Archive for November, 2012

Get Out the Vote

Vote

Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting. – Franklin D. Roosevelt

It’s a big day in my adopted country today.  Americans will be electing or re-electing a president  – as well as voting on myriad other issues linked to local candidates and in our district, bond proposals for essental school improvements.   Unlike many of my friends and neighbours, I am not able to vote.  I have lived in this country, on and off, for almost twenty years, and while my status as a resident alien (just love that E.T. term) gives me many privileges here, and I pay taxes, the biggest privilege is not yet mine.   To vote, one has to be a citizen.

Women were given the vote in England in 1918.  In the USA it was 1920.  Saudi Arabia, the last country in the world to deny women the right to vote, changed its laws only last year – almost a century later.   And still, it seems that 50% of all voters in America do not exercise their right as citizens to choose the leaders of tomorrow.   Reasons given – apathy, inability to get to a polling station, dislike of any of the candidates listed are the top reasons why people do not vote.  If you care about your country, then you should be voting. No ifs, ands, or buts.

The first time I remember paying attention to an election in England, it was 1979.  We had just endured a tough winter of union strikes and power cuts under Prime Minister Harold Wilson.   People were ready for change.  A grocer’s daughter from Lincolnshire was elected to be our new Prime Minister.   In 1983, I turned 18 on polling day and was able to vote for the first time.   I remember being very excited that I had the opportunity to cast a ballot on my birthday, unlike friends whose birthdays fell later in the year than mine, and went to the polling station with my mother, who showed me the procedure.   In June 1987, Prime Minister Thatcher called the election even though the end of her present term was still over 12 months away.  Somehow my flatmates and I were swept up in the excitement of voting in another general election and ended up outside party headquarters and on the television, as cameras showed the Iron Lady arriving to see her supporters and celebrating victory in the wee hours.

I was fortunate to be in the USA when the elections took place in 1992.  The excitement when William Jefferson Clinton became President was contagious.  It was my first experience of American democracy at work.

Now, here we go again.  It’s looking like the closest election for over 70 years.  One way or another, someone will be victorious tonight.  Hopefully the hanging chads will not play a part and the victor will be decisive.

So get out there. Let your voice be heard.  Celebrate your rights.  Go vote for whomever you feel deserves it.  And you can bet that the next election I’ll be right there too.

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