I took two of the grands to their town’s Veteran’s Day parade this morning. Opening ceremonies before a statue of a World War I doughboy included patriotic music by the high school pep band and speeches by the district’s congressman, a state assemblywoman, and the town’s mayor.
While each expressed their thanks to veterans—the standard, “thank you for your service,” and the assemblywoman cited programs offered for vets in the county, the mayor called for everyone to thank vets by hiring them, renting to them, by helping in their communities, and by voting in every election. Veterans, she said, served to protect our rights; we need to vote to preserve what they fought for.
As a member of my local League of Women Voters, I’ve been involved in a few voter registration and education events prior to Election Day last week.
I moderated a debate for Board of Education candidates. Held in a large high school auditorium, there were maybe 20 people in attendance. Given the magnitude of money and responsibilities associated with Boards of Education, and given that there were five candidates, and assuming some of those present were family members, that’s a disturbing turnout.
I registered voters at a local community college. I walked around the student center, interrupting their conversations and their studying; taking the few minutes I had their attention to remove their headphones or ear buds to invite them to the League’s table to register to vote. Many said they were registered; some said they would do it later. Many had no idea there was an election this year.
A friend of mine who lives in New York state, shared how because two candidates split the votes in one party, people in the other party assumed their candidate, an incumbent state legislator, would win and didn’t turn out. The opposition won.
Apathy is scourge of democracy. In my own town, four candidates ran for city council seats, all ran unopposed. Without debate, democracy weakens.
Every election counts. Vote to thank the veterans who served so we can vote.