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It's time to vote

November 05, 2002|by BOB MAGINNIS

This past October Iraqi President Saddam Hussein won another seven-year term with 100 percent of the vote. If that seems implausible, it was because no one else was on the ballot.

And those who voted "no" seven years ago when Saddam got only 99.96 percent of the vote apparently got the message that casting a negative ballot wasn't a good idea. Some 500 Iraqis who were brave enough to do that were jailed, according to a United Nations human rights report quoted by CBS News.

So what does any of this have to do with you? When you go to the polls today, you won't have to risk your life, and if your candidate loses, you won't go to jail or be targeted for government harassment. People all over the world risk their lives to vote, because it's a precious right.

To those who haven't been paying attention, it's almost too late to educate yourself on the candidates, although if you have the time and access to our Web site at herald-mail.com, you can read every story that's been written about local races.

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To those who are following the election closely, the avalanche of negative advertising has got to be discouraging. The Maryland candidates for governor could only find the time for one debate, but to hear their ads, their opponents are just a little bit less evil than Satan, and not quite as smart.

The same goes for the all-out mudfest in the race for West Virginia's Second Congressional District, featuring James Humphreys and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito.

Their ads' wild exaggerations aren't the truth, but if sifting the facts from the rhetoric is difficult, it's not as tough as going to war to preserve the right to vote. Tomorrow's forecast is for cloudy skies with temperatures in the 40s, but your journey to the polls won't be anything like what George Washington's troops put up with at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777, when the army ran out of boots and blankets and the nearby Schuylkill River froze to a depth of six inches.

Some soldiers boiled and ate their shoes that winter, since there were no supermarkets to go to and no money to pay for anything. Before you decide not to vote today, think of those men and the great gift of free elections that their sacrifice made possible.

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