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Harris Blackwood: Vote, let your voice be heard
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I don’t know anyone who actually stands around the water cooler, but we often use the idea of “water cooler conversations” to describe what average, everyday folks are chatting about.

This week, the fall temperatures approaching 90 degrees have a lot of people talking. However, the larger conversation is about the current election.

It amazes me how people will gripe about who is on the ballot when they didn’t bother to cast one in the primaries.

According to the election data, about 27 percent of eligible voters showed up for the presidential primary in Georgia. The numbers were about the same around the country. About 44 percent of registered voters turned out to vote.

If 56 percent of the people at your place of work didn’t show up, it would probably impact the ability of your organization to accomplish its task. But we get excited when 62 percent of people vote in the General Election. Do the math, 38 percent stayed home.

What is really scary is how people make the decision as who gets their vote.

Lots of information about folks and issues are on the ballot. We have a responsibility to be informed about such things. If you are relying on TV commercials and big postcards in the mail, you may be getting bad information.

The old comic strip, Pogo, was about a opossum and his friends who lived in the Okefenokee Swamp. His most famous quotation was “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Walt Kelly, the creator of the comic strip, first used it in the 1950s in the era of McCarthyism. He later used it to describe how we were damaging the earth.

Unfortunately, Kelly’s words are true about elections. Folks are quick to complain about the work of those in positions of public trust, but don’t bother to cast a ballot to let their voice be heard.

In the era before the long period of early voting, I missed voting in a runoff a few years ago.

Today, we have several weeks to cast a ballot, including a Saturday of early voting. The first few days of early voting saw a lot of people willing to stand in line to vote. That’s a good sign.

I love the excuses people give for not bothering to register to vote.

At one time, the jury list was compiled from registered voters. That’s not the case anymore. The list now comes from a number of sources. I don’t care for the waiting associated with jury duty, but I respond when I’m called.

Other people say things such as, “I just don’t care about politics.”

Do you care when someone raises your taxes, allows a new development near your home or increases your utility bill?

A lot of folks on the ballot can determine such things.

The one that always gets me is when someone says they don’t like anyone on the ballot and they are going to sit this election out. That’s just crazy.

We have a lot of things facing us at every level of government. Now, more than ever, we need to let our voices be heard.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on www.gainesvilletimes.com.

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