Voting is a cherished right no resident should ignore

Published 5:00 am Thursday, May 12, 2005

“Every vote counts” is a familiar refrain for politicians andofficials around election time.

That adage proved true Wednesday as challenger D.W. Maxwellunseated incumbent Ward Five Alderman Tom Smith by a mere threevotes after a recount of Tuesday’s Democratic primary. Maxwell willnow face Republican Don Godbold in next month’s generalelection.

Last week’s outcome could have been closer or even changed hadfive affidavit ballots, cast by people whose names did not appearin the poll book, been counted. They were rejected because twopeople were registered to vote in Ward Four and three were notregistered to vote in the city at all.

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Several points can be made based on last week’s electionactivity.

First, voters should take an interest in every election.

Only about 25 percent of Ward Five’s voters cast ballotsTuesday, but that was higher than the average citywide turnout ofabout 22 percent. Those who win the elections are the ones who makedecisions that affect the everyday lives of their constituents.

Second, voters should make sure their registration iscurrent.

Whenever someone moves to a new residence, he should go to thecircuit clerk’s office to re-register in the new location. Doing sowill help ensure voting records are correct and cut down on thehassle of voting by affidavit ballot or searching for the placewhere the person is actually registered to vote.

It should be noted that election officials at all levels ofgovernment should do everything they can to ensure that voter pollbooks are up to date, accurate and free of dead wood. Some strideshave been made in this area, but there is always room forimprovement.

Voting is an important and hard-fought freedom that we enjoy inthis country. It’s a right and privilege we all should exercise -even when there’s only one race on the ballot.