In the 200th year since George Washington was elected as the first U.S. president, Church members in the United States are being urged to "demonstrate their loyalty" to the Constitution by voting this year.
For many years, the First Presidency, prior to national election day, has urged in a letter to priesthood leaders that members exercise their privilege under the Constitution to vote. This year, however, that counsel is receiving particular emphasis as part of a four-year observance by the Church of the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution.Elder L. Tom Perry of the Council of the Twelve and Elder Hugh W. Pinnock, of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy, talked about the focus in a Church News interview.
They are members of the Constitutional Celebration Committee, responsible for the Church's participation in commemoration of the bicentennial of the Constitution. Elder Robert L. Backman, also of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy, is the third member of the committee.
"We are going to encourage, through the priesthood line, a telephone campaign just before the vote on Nov. 8," Elder Perry said. "Households of members will be contacted individually through the regional representatives, stake presidents, bishops, quorum leaders and home teachers.
"We are going to call every home, and then the priesthood leader in the home will be asked to encourage his own family members, who are eligible, to go to the polls."
Church members who are physically disabled will receive help from their home teachers or other Church members, Elder Perry explained.
In fact, Elder Pinnock suggested: "It would be a wonderful thing if all our members in Utah contact their neighbors to get out and vote, and help those who aren't members of the Church or newly moved in to register, and show them where to vote."
Elder Perry added: "We want Utah to be the highest in the percentage of eligible voters who vote, as a demonstration from this state of our belief in the Constitution.
"We would hope that the same percentage of members will vote across the United States, but because of the predominance of Church members in this state, it is the only state where we can get a reading on how well our people have done."
He emphasized that the Church does not take a political position or support a particular political candidate.
"And with this year's emphasis on voting, we are not taking a political position. We believe strongly in the two-party system. In this great land of the free, we have the right to vote for the candidates and propositions of our choice."
Elder Pinnock mentioned that this year's election is significant because voters will elect a president who will take office 200 years after George Washington was inaugurated on April 30, 1789, as the first U.S. president.
Emphasis by the Church on having all members vote is part of the Church's - and the nation's - four-year celebration of the Constitution's bicentennial.
Elder Perry noted that there were four years between the time the Constitution was signed on Sept. 17, 1787, and its final ratification on Feb. 18, 1791.
"As you know we have gone through a great year in 1987 of celebration of the completion of the Constitution," Elder Perry said. "This year we've been concentrating on having the people absorb what's in the Constitution.
"We gave them the family home evening manuals that were prepared for that," he continued. "We hope that the families in the Church have taken the opportunity to study it and become familiar with the content of the Constitution.
"Now what we would like them to do is demonstrate their loyalty to it by supporting it and going to the polls," the apostle emphasized.