How many times have you heard someone comment that “my vote doesn’t count, so I don’t bother”? To many Americans, that statement is as troubling as nails on a chalkboard. But have you ever taken a look to see why voting is such an important action?
Our nation’s founders believed in the system, but only for certain citizens. In the early days of our country, voters were limited by sex, race, property ownership, religion and other qualifiers. The Constitution eliminated a religious test, but it would take nearly 100 years and a bloody civil war, taking the lives of over 600,000 Americans, before race and color were eliminated from it and even longer with regards to sex and property holdings. Brave men and women have fought across the globe to preserve this right, and countries around the world emulate our inalienable rights with passion and commitment to their people. Emerging countries have populations fighting and dying for the rights that many Americans take for granted.
“All politics is local” is a grammatically challenged phrase most often associated with the former Speaker of the U.S. House, Tip O’Neill. While the phrase came from his actions on a Federal level to influence a local election, the statement holds true today. In 2008, a U.S. House seat from Alaska was decided by a single vote; while the U.S. Senate seat in Minnesota was won by 312 votes. And in what was probably the most famous (or infamous) of all close calls, George W. Bush became President of the United States in 2000 by winning a fiercely challenged and contested Florida race over Al Gore. Bush beat Gore by 537 votes out of over 5.5 million cast. In perspective, the Bush win was accomplished by about one third the number of people who attend the European Village Farmer’s Market on a typical Sunday afternoon!
Locally, in the 2014 election, a Palm Coast City Council seat was won by 302 votes. That was a landslide when compared to 2011, when two of those seats were won by margins of 55 and 36 votes.
A multitude of offices are up for election with voters making their wishes known in 2016. In addition to a Federal election where a new President, Vice President, Florida Senator, and U.S. House of Representatives member will be chosen, many local candidates are vying for your vote. These elected offices can easily affect your daily life. If you are concerned about the crime rate in your area (Sheriff), about voter fraud (Supervisor of Elections), how the court system functions (Clerk of the Court), or how your services are provided (Flagler County Commission and Palm Coast City Council), just to name a few of the races, you have a chance to express yourself at the polls. Have issues or concerns with your child’s education? There’s an election for that (Flagler County School Board). What does the state legislature do? Both the State Senator and State Representative are on the ballot in the fall.
Registering to vote is easy in Flagler County. You can obtain all of the necessary information and forms by going to the website for the Supervisor of Elections at http://www.flaglerelections.com/For-Voters/How-Where-to-Register, or you can call 386-313-4170.
This election year will influence every citizen’s life for years to come. Voting is an opportunity to express your feelings, beliefs, and convictions to the people entrusted to make decisions that directly affect the quality of your life for years to come. It is a right, a responsibility, and even a privilege to make your voice known. Be heard. Your vote counts.