V O T E !

September 12, 1994

For Maryland's 677,000 Republicans and 1,426,000 Democrats, tomorrow is a big day. Only once every four years do voters get to pass judgment on so many local officeholders and candidates running in party primaries. Now is the time to be heard.

For anyone reading this editorial, your appearance at the designated polling place is a responsibility that should not be ignored. There's no excuse. Democracy works well only when citizens wield the power of the ballot box. That applies to other adult family members, too.

Gene Raynor, the state administrator of election laws, predicts a 40 percent turnout -- about average for a non-presidential election in Maryland. That would mean over 1.2 million registered voters will stay at home. They will become part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Even more to the point: why register to vote if you don't avail yourself of that opportunity?

Marylanders love to complain about their local, state and federal officeholders. Many of them are clearly unhappy about what's going on in legislatures and in executive offices. Yet now is the chance to do something about it. Vote! Make your feelings known. If you like your representatives, support them. If you want a change, vote for it. The list of nominees for the November general election will depend on how you cast your ballot.

Does your vote matter? You'd better believe it. Four years ago, Baltimore City Sen. John A. Pica got 43 more votes than his Democratic primary opponent. Eastern Shore Del. C. Ronald Franks (running this time for U.S. Senate) won his Republican primary by 21 votes. Baltimore County Del. John S. Arnick won his Democratic primary race by a mere 6 votes. The candidates aren't kidding when they remind you, "Every vote counts."

With an open gubernatorial seat for the first time in eight years, the party campaigns for the top state offices have been intense. Most encouraging has been the heated fight for the Republican nomination for governor. It's a sign of the long-awaited revival of the state GOP. If a heavier-than-expected Republican vote takes place, party leaders will be thrilled. A vibrant two-party system in Maryland benefits every concerned citizen.

The polls open at 7 a.m. tomorrow. Don't forget. They close at 8 p.m. If you're confused about where you vote, call the local election board. If you need a ride to the polls, call any of the candidates in your area: they'll be happy to make sure you get a chance to vote.

Casting your ballot is perhaps the most important contribution you can make in this democracy. Don't lose the chance to make a difference.

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