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You can make a difference; vote!

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One of my earliest memories of the political process is from election night, 1964. I rode with my Mom and Dad to the polling place so they could vote after they got off work.

They argued in the car on the way to the polling place because they didn't agree 100 percent on whom to vote for, LBJ or Barry Goldwater. Dad was staunchly Democrat and Mom was -- and still is, I think -- more independent and preferred to vote for the person she thought would do the best job.

I don't recall that much about the argument except I distinctly remember Dad telling Mom that if she didn't also vote for Johnson she would cancel out his vote.

When Dad went inside first, I asked Mom what he meant by that and she explained it to me, adding that she didn't know if that was true or not. I asked her who she was going to vote for and she replied, "Oh, Johnson I guess."

I never asked her who she really voted for that night. I was just thankful for a peaceful ride home. But 48 years later I know I haven't got the right to know; that is why voting is done in secret.  

I'm not really sure why that has always stuck with me other than being intrigued by the argument that spouses could cancel each other's vote. I remember looking into it as I got older, even asking my teachers about it. What I would come away with was the belief that each vote has its own value and that each individual should follow his or her own beliefs in deciding how to vote.

I thought of this issue again recently when a young person told me she was not going to vote and had not,in fact, ever voted or even registered. She is now in her 30s and has missed several elections.

Her reason? She said she is only one person and therefore her vote wouldn't matter anyway. That kind of thinking is probably a good reason why voter turnout is so low each election; whereas I am one who would not dream of skipping a chance to exercise my right to vote and thus make a difference, there are even more who are apathetic about it because they either don't think they will make a difference or they just don't care.

When I suggested to her that every vote counts and makes a difference, she said no election was ever decided by one vote. While true, I noted, when enough people feel the way she does it adds up and can then definitely make a difference in a close election.

I asked her to please change her way of thinking, regardless which candidate she prefers. And considering what some of the issues are in this election, the votes cast by her generation will most assuredly make a difference in the long-term future of this country. But only if  her generation votes. If they stay home instead of voting, they cannot make a difference in the outcome of the election, nor have anything to complain about if their favored candidate loses.

When she said making up her mind on whom to vote for wasn't easy because each candidate had good ideas and bad, I told her she had to follow her heart, her mind. She should not let anybody tell her how to vote, whether it be a parent, a spouse or a clergyman.

Did she register and vote this year? I don't know and I probably won't ask.   

I do hope that those who are registered to vote will do so. You can make a difference.

Paul Gordon is editor of The Peorian. He can be reached at 692-7880 or editor@thepeorian.com

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).