Over the last several weeks and months, every possible avenue of information has been filled with political advertising, commentary and opinion, all jostling for the best position to influence voters in the November 8 election. This quadrennial dance of issues and candidates is just far enough apart that we forget how contentious it can be. It’s also a good time to be reminded how important it is to vote.
There are several camps when it comes to voting. Some say it’s a civic duty. Some say it’s a responsibility. Some say it’s a right. All of those are correct. Even so, almost half of the U.S. population doesn’t. Of the U.S. voting age population in 2012, 53.6 percent turned out to vote, according to the Pew Research Center; only 65 percent of the population was actually registered to vote. Those numbers are even lower in non-presidential cycles.
So why is that? This is our voice, our chance to stand up and be counted. Certainly, there are arguments against the effectiveness of this charge, but at the end of this cycle, those who do will have the final say.
While this year is important on the national scale — we are, after all, electing a new president, for better or worse depending on your camp — several statewide offices and ballot issues are important to Missouri specifically: gubernatorial and senate races along with ballot issues like Constitutional Amendment 1,the Parks, Soils, and Water Sales Tax renewal, not to mention local races.
More is at stake than who ends up sitting in the Oval Office.
Although it’s been a while since my high school civics class, every four years, I revisit that education. I hope I am setting a good example for my children so they understand that civics goes beyond that high school class and that investigation into the issues and civil discussion will help them form educated decisions when it comes time to vote.
In this late hour, while I am already certain how I will vote on most races and ballot issues, there are some on which I am yet on the fence. I know I am not alone. It may even be that I’ll be standing in the voting booth still weighing my options on Nov. 8, but one thing is certain: I will go, and I will vote.
Rebecca French Smith, of Columbia, Mo. is a multimedia specialist for the Missouri Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization