Why don't you vote? Winning reply gets a chance at $1,000

May 24, 2006|by BOB MAGINNIS

Odds and ends from a columnist's notebook:

This past Sunday, I wrote a column about the "American Idol" phenomenon and how those trying to engage voters in this country might use some show-business methods to keep campaigns from being deadly dull and/or nasty.

Those were my thoughts. But I've voted in every election in which I was eligible for at least 25 years, so I'm not sure I understand why people don't vote.

So let's make a contest out of it. To win, finish this sentence in 100 words or less: "I don't vote, but I would if ..."


Entries are due by Tuesday, May 30, at 5 p.m. Send them to No-vote contest, Editorial Page Editor, The Herald-Mail, 100 Summit Ave., Hagerstown, MD 21740. Or you may e-mail them to

The best three entries will win a ticket that will admit two people to the Hagerstown Exchange Club's annual summer picnic, which will be held on Saturday, June 24, from 1 to 4 p.m., at the Potomac Fish and Game Club along the Potomac River.

The menu features barbecue, hot dogs, hamburgers and assorted side dishes and a chance to win up to $1,000.

Only 250 tickets to the event will be sold and in addition to the $1,000 drawing, one person will win $200, one will win $100 and seven people will win $40.

If you finish your meal, but don't want to stay for the drawing, that's OK. You need not be present to win.

On Sunday, May 7, my wife and I participated in the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Walk. Ongoing security concerns since Sept. 11, 2001, have kept the walk an off-again, on-again event, but officials decided to move forward this year, with certain precautions.

Backpacks were prohibited and Coast Guard patrols kept boaters from riding under the bridge during the 4.3-mile walk.

Below, a sailboard race sponsored by Volvo was one more treat to add to the views of the water, the fishing boats and the distant shorelines.

For some, it was not enough. Instead of quietly observing what motorists can normally only glance at while driving by, too many walkers had brought along that contemplation-killing device, the cell phone.

Most of the conversations I heard - at top volume, of course - revolved around what the caller was going to do after the walk was over.

Does excessive cell phone use cause a loss of judgment? Perhaps, because on that Sunday, even nature's splendor and a unique perch from which to view it weren't enough to keep callers' minds focused on the beauty that was right before them.

This week Maryland General Assembly Del. Richard Weldon, R-Frederick/Washington, offered some good advice to would-be candidates.

Don't wait too late to file, Weldon said, because candidates need time to get their message out and raise some money.

Deciding whether to run for office is difficult, to be sure, but filing at the last minute means being caught in a crush of would-be elected officials.

File now and your story has a better chance of finding an audience. The filing deadline for Maryland's primary is 9 p.m. on Monday, July 3.

In the coming campaign, be sure to ask state level candidates how they voted on the 1999 electricity deregulation bill that was supposed to bring lower prices by freeing utilities from those pesky government rules.

It didn't work out as planned, so a fix is needed. Here's a tip-off to identify those who have no answers: They will express concern instead of offering solutions. By now, the truly concerned will have some idea about what must be done.

Those who expected a storm of protest over "graphic" material for a school-based sex-education assembly for Washington County ninth-graders were apparently wrong.

I haven't seen the material, but some of it is apparently the sex-ed equivalent of the old driver's ed movies such as "Signal 30," the gory 1959 release from Highway Safety Films Inc. If the assembly material makes one teen think twice about the possible consequences of sex, it's worth letting your son or daughter see it.

Bob Maginnis is editorial page editor of The Herald-Mail newspapers.

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