Editorial: Register, then vote
Turn on the TV any time between now and Nov. 6, and you’re sure to be bombarded with attacks and counterattacks from both parties, politicians looking for your vote by scaring you about what the other guy is going to do. In Virginia, which is now considered a battleground state, there’s hardly a commercial break where there’s not at least one of these ads. More often, there are two or three.
It’s almost enough to convince you not to vote. And, in many cases, that’s exactly what the candidate wants. Many of these ads are designed to appeal to those already convinced and put enough doubt in the minds of everybody else to keep them away on Election Day.
While it’s natural to feel discouraged with the constant bickering, half-truths and outright lies, don’t give up. It’s important to hang in there and cast an informed ballot. Remember, your future is riding on it.
Here are some things everyone should do in the coming weeks:
—First of all, make sure you’re registered to vote. Monday is the deadline. If you aren’t registered, be sure to do so. If you’ve moved or if you haven’t voted for a long while, check with your county registrar as soon as possible to be sure you’re still on the rolls.
—Find out where the candidates stand. Check out their websites. Read their campaign literature. Learn their positions on the issues, especially those you are passionate about. If you get a chance, watch a debate. Vice presidential candidates Joe Biden and Paul Ryan will square off at 9 o’clock tonight; the second of three presidential debates between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will be held at 9 p.m. Tuesday.
—Take the time to learn something about the other candidates and issues on the ballot. This November, Virginians will elect a new U.S. Senator to replace Jim Webb. Two former governors—Tim Kaine and George Allen (who was also Webb’s immediate predecessor in the Senate)—are vying for the job. Residents of Gloucester and Mathews will also be choosing between incumbent Rep. Rob Wittman and his Democratic challenger, Adam Cook. There are also two proposed amendments to the Constitution of Virginia on the ballot: one limiting instances when private property could be taken for public use; and a second allowing the General Assembly to delay the start of its veto session by up to one week.
—If you are going to be out of town on Election Day, or have some other reason for not being able to vote in person, fill out an absentee ballot application. There are 19 listed reasons for casting an absentee ballot; a full list can be found at http://www.sbe.virginia.gov.
—If you’re unsure where to vote, call your registrar to find your polling place or look up the information online.
—Vote. It only takes a few minutes, is relatively painless, and you’ll walk away knowing you’ve done your civic duty.
From the future of entitlement programs and education to health care and economic recovery, there’s a lot at stake this Election Day. Make sure you have your say.