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Prepare for national election

Staff Editorial | Friday, September 22, 2006

Outside Notre Dame, there are some things more important than football.

The balance of power in the House and the Senate is up for grabs, and only those who speak soon will have their voices heard at all. With core issues like the War on Terror, the economy and health care – your voice matters. It is imperative for students to start the voting process now.

Across America, absentee ballot application deadlines are approaching for the most contested midterm election since 1994.

In an age when incumbents frequently win 95 percent of their Congressional races, political observers are astounded that up to 50 races in the House of Representatives and eight in the Senate are toss-ups.

Right here, in Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District, incumbent Republican Chris Chocola trails Democratic challenger Joe Donnelly by 10 points, despite a huge early lead in funds.

And the story is the same across the country.

In Connecticut, three-term Senator Joseph Lieberman lost his Democratic primary to Ned Lamont but is mounting an independent campaign.

In Virginia, once-aspiring presidential candidate George Allen went from a fairly safe Senate re-election to a six-point deficit in just two months.

In Pennsylvania, former state attorney general and pro-life Democrat Bob Casey leads two-term senator and conservative stalwart Rick Santorum by nearly 10 points.

But the true importance of the 2006 election is not in who will be elected, but what they will stand for. Even a shift in just one of the two houses of Congress or a decrease in the Republican majority in both could dramatically alter the course of the next four years.

Domestic policies like suspected terrorist interrogations, immigration and homeland security are in the balance. So are America’s foreign policies with Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran.

This election means something – probably more than most.

And so do you. As an educated U.S. citizen, it’s not just your privilege to vote – it’s your job. No one else can do it for you. Now is the time to print your absentee ballot application and mail it in. Or else your state – and your country – won’t hear your voice.

For more information on how you can apply for an absentee ballot, visit your home state’s board of elections Web site or simply Google search your state and the words “absentee ballot.”