The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

November 4, 2012

Be sure to cast a ballot


DANVILLE — Millions of Americans plan to exercise their right to cast a ballot on Tuesday as they decide who their leaders at the national, state and local levels will be.

As much as we like to complain about the long — and this time, it seems really, really long — campaign season, there’s no other system we’d rather see in use.

Too many people ignore the privilege of voting.

The nation’s first elections were open only to white men at least 21 years old, many of whom had to own property.

The restrictions eventually were changed to allow all white men to vote, then all men and finally — less than 100 years ago — women could cast a ballot as well.

Our nation’s campaigns often involved nasty mudslinging — even George Washington had to deal with whispered criticisms before being elected to his second term as president.

The most recent campaign always seems to be worse than the one before, but that’s not always the case. Andrew Jackson had to fight claims he was a bigamist in his 1832 campaign. We sling a lot of mud these days, but nothing like that.

All Americans ages 18 and older are eligible to vote, and they should be sure to cast their ballots from an informed position.

No one should rely on the flood of campaign commercials or the tsunami of political commentators to base their voting decisions upon. The campaign ads often distort, inflate and outright lie about the candidates’ positions. And commentators often have little of value to add to the discussion.

Do your own research into the candidates’ positions. Libraries are excellent sources of information, both in print and via the Internet. Seek non-biased analysis of candidates’ plan and vote for the ones whose ideas most closely match your own.

Casting an uninformed ballot really is of little value and can have grave unintended consequences.

Above all else, be sure to vote. It’s a privilege not won lightly. Don’t allow the opportunity to pass by unused.