Tuesday's Bargain: 3 Votes for 1

March 02, 1992

How is this for a deal? If you vote in tomorrow's primary election, you will be casting the equivalent of three ballots. And it's strictly legit -- no names from graveyards, no stuffed precinct boxes. The only thing that could cancel the deal would be an unexpected outpouring of voters who want to do more than grouse about who is their president, or senator, or representative or Circuit Court judge.

But never fear. In primary after primary only about one-third of the electorate turns out. Sometimes less. It was 36 percent in 1988, only 29 percent in 1984. This year the forecast is 35 percent. The stay-at-homes are Marylanders who don't think their votes matter. And they don't, because they are never cast. Instead, these laggards generously give their proxy to fellow citizens who care about such small matters as peace or war, prosperity or recession, tax boosts or tax cuts.

Both the Democrats and the Republicans are offering interesting races this year. If it matters to you who sits in the Oval Office -- if you think there is more than a dime's worth of difference between George Bush or Pat Buchanan, or among Jerry Brown, Bill Clinton, Tom Harkin, Bob Kerrey and Paul Tsongas -- then we urge you to cash in on the three-for-one sale at your friendly polling station. Likewise, if you give a damn who represents Maryland in the Senate and the House.

Otherwise, stay home. Let your next-door neighbor decide how you are to be governed. For rest assured, he will also be voting for the neighbor on the other side of his house.

Funny thing about Americans. We sure do love our democracy. We sure do love our freedom. We sure do love our flag. But as for our vote, two out of every three of us say, "Forget it; too much trouble." But take away our democracy, take away our freedom, take away our flag and what will be one of the precious things we will miss most?

The right to vote.

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