Perhaps three million Michiganders will vote today. Hundreds of thousands more have already voted, sending in or dropping off absentee ballots. A few voted from the front lines in Afghanistan or the deserts of Iraq, and sent their ballots through the mail.
The secretary of state estimates that a little more than half the state’s registered voters will vote today, which means almost half won’t, on top of the many who never bothered to register.
I always vote myself, even when I am not especially excited by any of the candidates. I vote because I’ve been to too many countries where people got killed for trying to cast a vote.
I vote because when I was twelve, three college kids not much older than me were tortured and murdered for trying to get frightened Americans to register to vote, in the state of Mississippi.
When they died there was a three-year-old little boy elsewhere in this country whose parents’ lives would have been in danger had they been living in Mississippi when he was born.
They might have been murdered because his daddy was black and his momma was white. Today, that little boy is the President of the United States. The people who look like him finally got the right to vote partly because a white lady from Detroit went to Alabama to help them, and was brutally murdered by the Ku Klux Klan.
So I vote. I think if you haven’t voted yet today, you owe it to yourself and your nation to do so. Maybe not for every office. But you surely know something about the candidates for governor, or have an idea whether we should have a constitutional convention.
You ought to have some opinion about your representative in Congress. I know that if you’ve been listening to the smug commentators on television, you’ve heard that most of these elections are no longer in doubt. Well, guess what.
They are in doubt, till we’ve all voted. Ask Jim Blanchard, who the same talking heads said was certain to win twenty years ago.
There wasn’t a doubt in the world about his re-election, till the votes were counted. Sometimes, it is important and honorable to vote for the loser. I remember coming out of a voting booth once, voting against a candidate whom I knew would win, but whom I couldn’t stand. “Well, that’s one he didn’t get,” I thought.
And I liked that feeling.
But as much as I enjoy the tradition of standing in line, there’s a problem nowadays. The ballot is too complex. There are too many candidates and proposals. Sample ballots are available on the internet, but I think we should all automatically be sent one in the mail, so we can study it, mark it up and take it with us to the polls.
But for now, do the best you can, and if you haven’t done so yet, go cast your vote.
People died to get you the right to do that. I think we owe it to ourselves to pay them back.