Don’t fail to make your voice heard

Early voting is underway all across the Hawkeye State

Election Day in the Hawkeye State is Nov. 6. To make voting as convenient as possible, many states allow registered voters to cast ballots over a period of weeks in advance the official Election Day. Here in Iowa early voting is now underway. Ballots can be cast at county auditors’ office. Absentee ballots are also available for voters unable to pay a visit to their courthouse.

Unfortunately, many people choose not to vote. That poses a serious threat to our democratic system. American governmental institutions won’t work as intended if citizens fail to express their preferences by voting.

If you are one of those who think that individual voters don’t matter, it may be useful to reflect a bit on history.

In the 2000 presidential election, if a few more people had showed up to vote in Florida, George W. Bush might now be known primarily for his service as governor of Texas. In 1960, the presidential vote was so close that the outcome was decided by about one vote per precinct nationwide. Right here in Iowa, in the 1998 Democratic primary, Tom Vilsack won his party’s nomination for governor by less than two votes per precinct.

In many elections a few nonvoters could have altered subsequent history mightily had they chosen to participate.

It’s troubling that some people believe that who wins will have no impact on them personally. Over time, such nonparticipation undermines the legitimacy of the governmental system. It becomes hard to claim that officeholders reflect the will of the public a great many people had no role in their selection.

This year there are important contests for a wide array of offices. Here in Iowa we will select a governor and other statewide offices as well as members of the state Legislature and an array of other offices. On the federal level there is closely contested battle for control of Congress.

Defend your democratic birthright by voting early, by casting an absentee ballot or by showing up at the polls on the official Election Day.