Editorial: Why vote?

Posted 11/2/18

On Tuesday (Nov. 6), millions of Americans, including New Mexicans, will make their voices heard through their vote.

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Editorial: Why vote?

Posted

On Tuesday (Nov. 6), millions of Americans, including New Mexicans, will make their voices heard through their vote.

Millions more, including thousands of eligible voters in Taos County, won’t bother to cast their ballots.

We get it.

Things are so divisive, fragmented and downright depressing in our nation and our state, we could all be forgiven for simply throwing up our hands and giving up on democracy.

But votes aren’t wasted. A look back at how far we’ve come as a country, and as an extraordinarily diverse set of citizens, reminds us why votes count and voices matter.

In 1789 – the first presidential election – only white men over age 21 who owned property could vote.

It took nearly a century and a civil war for the United States Constitution to be amended to ensure the “right of citizens shall not be denied or abridged ... on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

Still, the words didn’t translate to reality at the polling booths. Many American citizens of color and all women remained excluded from voting under individual state and local laws. Even though constitutionally black men had the right in 1870, they were barred from voting, especially in the southern states, by various Jim Crow laws. Native Americans still weren’t recognized as citizens.

Through decades of marches, lobbying, court battles, blood and tears, those who had been excluded from the polls eventually won the right to fully participate in the democracy: women in 1920; Native Americans in 1924: black men and women in the mid-1960s; and 18 year-olds in 1971.

Which citizens still can’t vote in federal elections? Residents of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands – all United States territories.

Democracy has never been a given. It has always been a form of government requiring people to struggle, often against each other, to make the system work for everyone.

It is always under threat from powers within and without.

But the biggest threat comes when citizens simply don’t vote.

That leaves the power over the democracy in the hands of fewer and fewer people who have their own interests, and not those of the American people, in mind.

Who is voted into office matters a lot in our daily lives.

Our elected officials make decisions affecting our health care, farms, water, air, jobs, jails, wildlife, energy production, taxes and schools.

At the polling booth, choose carefully. Choose based on who the candidate is, not only on political party. Choose candidates based on more than one issue. Pick a few issues most important to you. Spend some time reading a variety of articles from different reliable sources about candidates’ stances on those issues. Rewatch a debate or two between candidates. Do they have specific plans for what they say they’ll do and how they’ll pay for their plans?

A lot is at stake in this election nationally and in New Mexico.

We urge you to remember all the sacrifices made by so many to make this democracy better. Let’s make Taos County the number one in the state for voter turnout in this midterm election.

We urge you to vote.

Find all our past stories on candidates and our recommendations in Taos County, Colfax County and for statewide offices at taosnews.com 

To recap our recommendations:

U.S. Senate: Martin Heinrich

U.S. Rep: Ben Ray Luján

Governor: Michelle Lujan Grisham

Lt. Governor: Howie Morales

State Auditor: Brian Colón

State Treasurer: Tim Eichenberg

Secretary of State: Maggie Toulouse Oliver

Attorney General: Hector Balderas

Commissioner of Public Lands: Stephanie Garcia Richard

New Mexico Supreme Court Judge: Michael Vigil

New Mexico Court of Appeals:

     Position 1: Stephen French

     Position 2: Jacqueline Medina

     Position 3: Briana Zamora

     Position 4: Daniel Gallegos

     Retain: Miles Hanisee

For Taos County Sheriff: Jerry Hogrefe

We recommend YES votes for the transit district, two constitutional amendments and four bond issues.

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