With the addition of early voting to the local political scene, a new dynamic has been added to the electoral process. Even so, it appears based on turnout the tradition of going out to vote on an official Election Day has something of a luster that doesn't carry over to the election days of the early voting schedule.
Either way, the early voting participation numbers indicate voter turnout will be anemic come Tuesday, April 3. That's not just a shame. It's a disgrace. Men and women remain in harm's way overseas fighting to secure a nation — actually more of an ungovernable territory — that was used as base of operations for the9/11attacks of a decade ago. In other words, they're fighting to protect our basic freedoms from those who would impose a particular brand of tyranny, the imposition of a particular variety of religious law. This is counter to our tradition of acknowledging that the almighty is revealed to different people in different ways, and that faith is a matter of personal choice.
Freedom to practice, or not practice, the rites of a particular religion is but one of the many freedoms that are part of the tradition of our country, and, though it's become something of a cliche, freedoms have a cost and they have needed defending over the generations.
Something that's not as frequently noted, however, is that failure to exercise freedoms is also a necessity when it comes to preserving them. Just as a muscle weakens or even atrophies with disuse, so it is with the freedoms noted in the Constitution's Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights, after all, is but a sheet of paper, albeit one that enshrines and encodes vital and important traditions of personal freedom. It is important, but what's more important is the regular exercise of freedom, be that the freedom to call a government representative to express an opinion, the freedom to voice an unpopular — or popular — position on a matter of public policy or the freedom to assemble to express unity on a particular subject, as happened last week in Bel Air.
Unfortunately, a fundamental right all too frequently is not exercised: the right to vote. While it is true that inherent in any right, is the right to not exercise it, when it comes to voting, if only a few people show up to decide who gets to make key decisions, then our government becomes increasingly less representative.
Sure, it's true in this year's primary election there's not a lot to get excited about, but then again, if more people got excited about the workings of our county, state and country, possibly we'd have a little wider selection on the ballot come primary election day. This, of course, would translate into more meaningful choices come general election day.
The reality is, it is plenty easy to complain about the folks in charge, but if you don't like them and you didn't bother to vote, you are more part of the problem than the folks who got into office because you failed to vote.
Do yourself and your country a favor: Come Tuesday, if you didn't partake of early voting, get out and cast a ballot, be it for or against the candidates of your choosing. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and details about polling places can be found at harfordvotes.com, the official site of the Harford County Board of Elections. For information on Cecil's election, visit http://www.ccgov.org/election_bd/.