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Voting a privilege and a duty

Janis Clare Galitzer

By A Contributor

There is a very important issue this campaign season: the need to register and to vote. It is a sad state of affairs when people abandon their right to vote! In other parts of the world, citizens risk their lives for the privilege; in the United States, people whine and say, “My vote doesn’t count anyway, so why bother?”

Citizenship has rights, privileges and responsibilities. Active citizenship is the philosophy that citizens should work for the betterment of the community through economic participation, public volunteer work and other efforts to improve life for everyone. Citizenship represents the link between a person and state and is related to the right to work and live in a country and to participate in political life. A member of a political community who enjoys such rights should fulfill the responsibilities.

A vote is a formal expression of the acceptance of these responsibilities. Every vote counts. Here are some selected statistics from the Riley County website that I hope will prove my point.

• 2008: There were 33,220 registered votes in the county; 10,707 (30 percent) did not vote for any of the candidates for president: John McCain got 12,103 votes, Barack Obama received 10,482 votes; others received 493 votes.

• 2010: There were 32,731 registered voters; 18,750+ people (57 percent) did not vote for any of the candidates for U.S. Senate or governor

• 2011: There were 32,015 registered voters; 25,582 people (80 percent) did not vote for any of the candidates for City commission: John Matta, who placed first, received 3,495 votes. His vote total 3,495 was 10 percent of registered voters.

• 2012: There are 31,808 registered voters, 13,808 Repub-licans, 7,367 Democrats and 10,633 others. I do not know when this data was recorded. According to U.S. census information, there are nearly 73,000 people in Riley County, and about 18 percent are under 18 years of age — so there are over 60,000 people who are eligible to register to vote. So about 47 percent of eligible citizens are not even registered!

Are you one of them? You must register to vote by Oct. 16 to vote in the 2012 general election! Remember, you will need proper ID to register and to vote.

It doesn’t matter what whether you live in a red or blue state. It doesn’t matter that you may not be able to change the numbers at the top of the chain, if that is your issue. Let’s forget about trickle down and think filter up!

I hope you can find a place in the statistics above where you can see that your vote might have made a difference.

Now, imagine that difference multiplied by every nonvoter in Riley County, every non voter in every county in Kansas and every nonvoter in every county in the United States. There are 3,091 counties in the United States!

What are 1,000 votes or 100 or even 10 here and there? Well, it could really be something! Every single voter can influence the outcomes of an election. Don’t blame anyone else for what happens in an election that you have not participated in!

Be an active citizen — be counted! Register and vote — do it for all of us!

Janis Clare Galitzer lives at 1504 Humboldt St.

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