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Take advantage of voting right

Staff Editorial | Thursday, October 2, 2008

When we have the good fortune to live in a country where democracy prevails and the people select who will lead that democracy, why choose not to enjoy it?

The 2008 presidential election is the first in a long time when neither a former president or vice president is on the ballot. American troops are at war in Iraq and Afghanistan and the economy recently tumbled off a cliff. If the current state of the country doesn’t inspire you to vote, your priorities need to change.

Voting accounts for much of the basis of democracy: government for the people, by the people. Allowing the citizens to choose those who will represent their best interests makes up what this country and what democratic countries around the world stand for. Americans have a right to vote, but they also have the privilege to vote. Should they spurn that privilege, the right may soon follow suit.

For out of state students, filling out a form for an absentee ballot simply requires a Google search, a printer and five minutes to fill out a half-page form. Slap a stamp on it and you’re done. Feel like your state is already decided? Vote in Indiana, where a recent South Bend Tribune/WSBT poll has the candidates separated by only a single percentage point.

Registering to vote in Indiana isn’t much more difficult. Fill out another half-page form and drop it in the mailbox. Depending on when you vote, you may even have an excuse to get out of classes come election day.

To avoid allowing the presidential election to steal the thunder this November, remember the importance of the Congressional elections. Now more than ever, Congress isn’t a bunch of old guys babbling at each other on C-SPAN. We saw its importance Monday, when the House voted down a bailout plan and the stock market crumbled. A few more votes, and maybe the measure passes; a few more votes from you, and maybe some different congressmen are in office to cast those deciding votes.

The point isn’t to support or stop a bailout plan. The point is that Congress matters as well. It’s your duty to be informed about what your Congressmen want. Ever complained about laws or taxes? Chances are your Congressmen have taken a stance one way or the other. If you paid attention to their views, you could make an informed vote to better serve your interests.

Monday is the last day to register to vote in Indiana, and the deadlines for getting an absentee ballot are approaching. Take 10 minutes to make sure you have a means to cast a ballot come Nov. 4.