Saturday, June 24

Help make a difference by casting your vote in the upcoming election


By Chuck Levin and Alexandra Paul

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010. On the ballot are federal, state and local candidates and measures.

Caution: Voter apathy in 2010 means things just get worse in 2011. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

In California, there are no obstacles to voting and no obstacles to registering to vote (Oct. 18 was the last day to register to vote for this election). If you are registered and 18 years old on or before Nov. 2, you are eligible to vote.

When you move, or if you change your name or your party affiliation, you must simply reregister. For this midterm election, early voting in person started on Oct. 4 at the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters office. Voting by mail started on Oct. 4.

California voters receive an information guide from the Secretary of State in Sacramento and a sample ballot from the Registrar of Voters in each county before each election.

Back in the 19th century, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, you could fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but not all of the people all of the time.

During our lifetimes, especially in recent decades, it is evident some of the people vote all of the time and more of the people vote none of the time, and therein lies the disastrous dilemma.

When voters stay home, the public’s interest is dismissed, and narrow interests curry favor.

Today in California, there are 23.5 million people who are eligible to vote, yet only 17 million are registered. With the exception of the November 2008 presidential election, voter participation in California and across the country has, for the past 40 years, been setting records for lower and lower turnout.

This chronic apathy is directly related to the chaos in Sacramento, dysfunction at City Hall and bickering on Capitol Hill. Persistent apathy leads to a cynical political environment, a disaffected electorate and a distant government.

Political mischief and arrogance are the immediate consequences of habitual low voter turnout. The connection between voting and solutions is direct and transparent.

We are a democracy, and in a healthy democracy, elections decide the direction of our country and our community. The greater the number of citizens engaged in their right, responsibility and privilege to vote, the more successful the process and the stronger the republic.

Democracy in the United States and our representative government depends on the enlightened participation of its citizens. That’s been the pursuit since 1776.

There’s the story. Now here’s the message: Make democracy a habit. Embrace it. Stay informed, register to vote and vote in every election. Our future depends on it.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 2. The polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Levin is founder and executive director of The First Vote Foundation. He has been registering voters on the Westside since 1968. Paul is an actress, and she has been registering voters with Levin once a week since 1986. They register outside Stan’s Donuts on Wednesdays 5 -7 p.m.

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