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As we see it: Voting is your right, exercise it

Campaign season is upon us. The Democratic National Convention is going on this week, and the Republican National Convention starts next week. We already know who the presumed nominees are going to be. The Democrats are running Joe Biden and running mate Kamala Harris. On the Republican side incumbent President Donald Trump is the presumed nominee along with Vice President Mike Pence. 

In the coming weeks and months we’ll see a lot of campaign ads. We’ll receive a lot of phone calls. Our inboxes will fill up with a lot of e-mails. All will urge us to support one party or another, or one candidate over another. Few of them will change our minds about the candidates we’ve likely already decided to support. If we are undecided, it’s more likely to be the debates and the policy initiatives that sway us than it is the advertisements, phone calls, and e-mail spam. But it’s all part of the process. 

Candidates and political parties will spend obscene amounts of money on their campaigns, and it all has to go somewhere. That somewhere is to supporting the phone banks and political consultants who will generate these e-mails and physical mailings and television and radio ads. We’ve all become pretty used to it by now, and it’s easy to become just a little bit jaded about the whole process. 

We’re imploring you not to let that happen. Whether you’re “Blue no matter who,” or “riding the Trump train,” or one of those folks who is considering voting third party to send a message to the two major parties that their policies aren’t cutting it for you, we are begging you to get out and vote. 

It’s easy to get discouraged. It’s easy to look at the two party system, and at the partisan bickering that every policy issue – no matter how non-partisan it seems it should be – inevitably comes down to, and want to throw your hands in the air and give up on the whole process. 

We can’t do that, though. It’s more than your right as an American to cast a vote; it’s your duty. And it’s honestly never been easier to make sure your vote is counted. In addition to mail-in ballots, which can be a God-send for the elderly, the immunocompromised, or anyone that has issues getting off from work or out of the home to vote on election day, Kentucky is allowing early voting up to three weeks before election day. Though the times and dates for early voting may vary a little from district to district, there is no reason that long lines or having to work on election day should keep you from voting. 

If you are concerned about the coronavirus, and you worry about your mail-in absentee ballot reaching the polls in time, you can always fill-out your absentee ballot at home and, instead of dropping it in the mail, deliver it to a drop-box in the county clerk’s office. There are so many options for how to cast a ballot in Kentucky this year, there is no reason or excuse for anyone to skip out on voting, other than pure apathy with the process. 

We understand that too. It’s easy to get disillusioned with the system. It’s easy to see no change, no matter who you vote for or who gets elected, due to partisan bickering and want to throw your hands in the air and give up. We’ve probably all felt that impulse at least once in our adult voting lives. 

But, please, don’t give in to it. Even if you cast a protest vote, your vote matters. It sends a message. Without your participation, this great experiment in democracy – an experiment which has inspired political change around the globe in the short 244 years our nation has existed – is bound to fail. Maybe not this year. Maybe not in another four years. But eventually. 

It may sound melodramatic and self-important to say, but if the American experiment fails, it could take a lot of promise around the globe down with it. We can’t, in good conscience, support that level of selfish apathy, even if voting does sometimes seem pointless and unable to affect the change we hope for. It’s important, even if it’s just to send a message – to the political parties, to our descendants, and to fledgling democracies around the world our system of government has inspired. 

So please, this November (or October if you decide to vote early) please, get out and vote. No matter who you support. We’re all counting on you.

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