It’s election day for many cities and municipalities today. To be sure, there are no major offices for which to vote, such as president, Congress, or governor. Still, in the city of Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel faces a runoff election against opponent Chuy Garcia. And in my own humble suburb, we are voting for, among other offices, our local school boards.
Our high school board election has been the subject of much controversy and a great deal of effort on the part of many, myself included, to campaign for our slate of candidates. While I have always taken seriously my responsibility to vote, during this election I have played a much more active role and it has been very exciting.
Exercising one’s right to vote is not something to take lightly. Yet in many elections, a small minority of eligible voters decides the makeup of city councils, school boards, and other legislative bodies. Even in presidential elections, many people opt not to exercise this all important right.
I still remember seeing photographs of the first free elections in Iraq after the downfall of Saddam Hussein. Voters waited in long lines for hours and proudly displayed their ink-stained fingers for the cameras. I’m afraid that here in the U.S., we take this right for granted.
Today has been an inhospitable day to vote in the Chicago area. It is cold and blustery, and there’s not a ray of sunshine to be seen. Sure, it would be easier to stay inside one’s home or office than to brave the cold and go out and vote. But it is our civic duty to do so.
After months of political ads, robocalls, and editorials about the candidates and the issues, we the people will be heard through the power of our vote. So if it’s election day for you and you have not yet voted, I urge you to go out and exercise that treasured right.
Otherwise, in the words of some sage, “If you don’t vote, you lose the right to complain.”