The right to vote is a sacred thing that I have been doing since I turned 18 years old. That was more than four decades ago. I haven’t missed an election. I will go if it is raining or so beautiful outside that one would enjoy playing hooky from the world. I usually remind my friends not to forget to vote.
I can vividly recall when I registered to vote for the first time. I was excited to be part of the process. It was 1976 and the 48th quadrennial presidential election saw Jimmy Carter, of Georgia, defeat President Gerald Ford, of Michigan.
People have been making excuses not to vote ever since I can remember. They have been arguing for years about whether or not their vote can make a difference.
Well, I think it can.
The controversy is understandable in national elections where electoral votes rule the outcome. Most people aren’t in favor of that college yet the system continues to be used over and over again. We all know presidential elections have the best turnout, so it makes me believe that voters have high hopes.
So push all those doubting thoughts aside and get out there on Nov. 5. We don’t use the electoral method for local elections, and on the Eastern Shore, it has been repeatedly proven that every vote is important. Yippee! Yes, we’ve seen it happen!
Mayor Matt Hart, of Onley, won by a single vote in 2018 against Bill Ferguson. It was a monumental event in local history. Google it and you will see.
In 2014, Sen. Lynwood Lewis won his seat by 11 votes and defeated Wayne Coleman, a Hampton Roads businessman. It was a difference of nine votes before the recount. So two votes were stirring around for a while. That was my vote and your vote in there somewhere.
A lot more people are voting absentee these days. And that is fine. I did it only once and that was in 2000 when my mother died just a few days before Election Day. I was living in the Shenandoah Valley and needed to come back home, so I cast my ballot before I traveled.
But I prefer to vote at the precinct. Mine is the Painter firehouse. It is a ritual for me. The line is never that long and everyone is very professional. I know my vote is kept private. That’s important when you work for a newspaper. I don’t vote in party primaries because someone might accuse me of being partisan.
No one agrees with everyone else all the time, and we never really know what others do when they get that ballot in their hands. I think it’s a perfect way to have a secret.
You are free to do as you please. That also means if you don’t like the way an unopposed candidate is performing, you can withhold a vote for that person while still casting a ballot for other offices. It’s powerful and it sends a silent message.
So I urge all the voters in Accomack and Northampton counties to get out and vote, wear the sticker that says you voted proudly, and give a friend a ride to the polls. Yippee!