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Do your duty and vote

November 02, 2004

The Herald-Mail editorial staff has worked hard to get every campaign-related letter possible in before Election Day, but now we're out of space.

That means the only way to express your point of view on this election is to go to the polls. The weather may be less than ideal and, given the close nature of the presidential race, the lines may be long.

But it will not mean taking, as some citizens of Afghanistan were forced to do recently, a 60-mile trip to cast a ballot. We'll bet few if any of those people made that trip in an air-conditioned SUV, either.

Jim Powlen, a local soldier stationed in Afghanistan, was there to observe a vote in which 8 million of that nation's 11 million registered voters went to the polling places.

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Powlen shared some of his observations with us.

In some areas of that nation, Powlen said, Afghans were killed or beaten just because they registered to vote. Powlen said that some traveled many miles on foot, then waited for hours in line. Despite all these hardships, 73 percent of all citizens voted, he said.

Nobody will threaten you on your way to vote today, unless you count the party activists with printed pamphlets who hope that their last-minute pitch will change your mind. Voting, for most Americans, is as safe and easy as going to the grocery store.

Unlike visiting a grocery store, going to the polls doesn't cost you anything. It's not voting that's costly, for you and the nation. Small turnouts mean elections are likely to be decided on narrow grounds instead of a full range of issues.

But every elected official, from School Board members on up, has to deal with many different concerns, including some that will arise unexpectedly. It will take a well-rounded office-holder, as opposed to a single-issue candidate, to deal intelligently with such issues.

Today, please do your duty as an American and vote.

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