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September 19, 2014

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EDITORIAL:

There’s no good excuse for American citizens not to vote

“The ballot is stronger than the bullet.”

— Abraham Lincoln

Election Day is Tuesday, and it is expected to come and go with an anemic turnout. Just 16 percent of voters cast a ballot in the 2012 primary.

ELECTION TURNOUT IN CLARK COUNTY

2012 — 16% for primary, 81% for general

2010 — 26% for primary, 63% for general

2008 — 15% for primary, 80% for general

2006 — 27% for primary, 56% for general

2004 — 25% for primary, 80% for general

2002 — 26% for primary, 57% for general

2000 — 22% for primary, 69% for general

Why don’t people vote? There are plenty of excuses, but none are very good. For example:

• This is a primary election and won’t matter. Actually, it will. Primaries set up the general election by narrowing the candidate field. In some cases, a win in the primary means a walk in the general election. For example, a Democrat winning a primary in a heavily Democratic district is nearly guaranteed a victory in the fall. And in some cases, elections could actually be won in the primary.

• I’m not a Republican or Democrat, so I don’t have much to vote on. It’s true that there will be fewer races on the primary ballots of voters who aren’t aligned with a major party, but there are races for sheriff, judges, the university system’s Board of Regents and the Clark County School Board. Not voting means not having a voice in those races.

• The ballot is too big. It’s hefty, there’s no doubt about that, but don’t complain: People want the right to vote, even if they don’t exercise it. Consider the 2010 initiative that would have taken Supreme Court and District Court judges off the ballot and given the governor the right to appoint them. It failed, with almost 60 percent of the voters against it.

• There’s no information about the candidates. In this day and age, it is fairly easy to get information. Most candidates have websites, and many have Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and public email addresses. They also still make dozens of appearances at town hall meetings, barbecues and other campaign events. Several groups put out voter guides. It’s just a matter of looking.

• I have to go out of my way to vote. Seriously? In Clark County? It’s easy to vote here. Early voting, which ended Friday, ran for 14 days. Polling places were hard to miss at malls, athletic clubs, libraries and grocery stores. Absentee ballots also are available.

So, how hard is it to vote? If you still haven’t, you can vote Tuesday at your normal polling place, close to where you live. You can find the polling place at www.clarkcountynv.gov/VOTE

• My vote doesn’t matter. Your vote might not seem important, but it is, especially when voter turnout is low.

For example, the 2002 election for an open seat in Esmeralda County ended in a tie, and by law, the candidates drew cards to determine the victor. (In another tie, both candidates drew jacks, but the jack of spades won the day.)

Don’t think such luck-of-the-draw happens only in small towns and counties. In 2011, a primary for North Las Vegas city council resulted in two people tied for second place. The same year, another NLV city council seat was determined by a single vote.

• So what? Why should I vote anyway? Voting is a part of being a citizen, and Americans have fought and died for the right. It’s a fundamental way people have a say in government.

To not cast a ballot is to abdicate your voice and duty as a citizen. There’s no good reason not to go to the polls.

So, if you haven’t already, be sure to go vote Tuesday.

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