A young voter explains the importance of casting a ballot [Letter]

July 01, 2014

Voting has always been a big deal in my family. I remember being led into the polling booth by my mother during every election for as long as I remember. I've watched her vote for presidents, governors, mayors and everything on down. She is one reason why I was so eager to register to vote once I turned 18. Now that I'm turning 20 and have had the opportunity to vote, I understand the value of our democratic responsibility and try to instill that in others, especially in my peers.

I recently read an article about the Afghani presidential election and how the Taliban was chopping off the hands and fingers of those who voted. Yet the Taliban couldn't deter the Afghan people from voting and they are well on their way to having free and democratic elections.

With that in mind, I'm sure that you can understand my angst and frustration at the extremely low turnout in Maryland's recent gubernatorial primary. Less than a quarter of the state's registered voters showed up, and that with a week of early voting and absentee voting.

We as a nation value the ability to express our opinions and voting is one outlet for this. Government has provided us with an opportunity to exercise our democratic right, yet we turn away. We should be grateful for our freedom to vote and shape the direction of our nation, state, county. Instead we take it for granted.

Many people argue that in today's cynical, hyper-partisan times voting doesn't matter. People say that there's too much money in politics and that the system is broken. But by choosing to opt out of the system we are tolerating a complacency that will not bring about change.

There are some races in Maryland, like the Republican primary in Anne Arundel County's 30th Legislative District, that had a margin of victory of only a few votes. With that in mind, it's unfair to say that anybody's vote doesn't count.

People like to complain about the system, but instead of voting to effect change, they stay at home. It's like arguing that it's too hot in your house but refusing to get up and turn on the air conditioning.

I hope people will recall that voting is a privilege that isn't extended to everyone and that those who complain about the system without participating in it do everyone else a disservice. Hopefully we will see a better turnout in the general election in November.

Chance Carter, Baltimore

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