To many, this year feels like the election that just never ends. In a connected world of social media where any talk about candidates and issues can turn into a war zone, it can make anyone exhausted of Decision 2016 where there’s seemingly no escape from the daily media coverage. And while we’re just a day away from the light at the end of the tunnel, there’s an important duty that many of us have left to do. Actually cast that ballot!
Part of the beauty of a government system like ours is the fundamental right you have to join the rest of your community to voice your individual opinion. Democratic in nature, all citizens have a right to vote, with leadership fully in the hands of all citizens as a whole. And that means all individuals, regardless of social standing, have an unalienable right to voice their opinion of who should be a leader at all levels of government. The late President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves. And the only way they could do this is by not voting.”
It does not matter what side you’re supporting, or who you think is the best person to lead our country and our state. Whether you like Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump or Mike Weinholtz or Gary Herbert, or any of the dozens of seats and amendments up for election on Nov. 8, don’t let anyone tell you your vote is wasted. Every vote counts and can have an impact on who ultimately takes office.
Think back to the 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. The margin of victory triggered a mandatory recount. Ultimately, a Supreme Court decision to hold recount totals as they stood determined Bush won Florida by just 537 votes — 537 votes out of the 282.2 million people living in the United States that year. And in local elections, often races are much tighter with a few hundred votes separating the candidates. Major public bonds initiatives have been decided by less than 10 ballots. Every one of those votes counted in a big way, and so does yours.
If you’re still undecided and wonder if your one ballot can make a difference, there are other reasons as well. Vote because it’s your fundamental and unalienable right that someone fought and died for you to have. Vote because you support the democratic process as a whole. Vote because you want to express your solidarity with everyone else who supports one particular candidate. Or just vote as a sign of personal pride and accomplishment.
As a Mason in Utah, I’m reminded to be a good citizen and to take my civic duties seriously. It doesn’t matter who a Mason supports, as long as he is exercising his civic duty. Masonic ideals have worked their way through the United States’ political history, often coming to light in political platforms of candidates. With George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and John Hancock as well-known Masons from American history, they often advocated the ideals of equality, freedom and democracy into the political conversations of the day. In more recent history, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Gerald Ford and Gen. Douglas MacArthur, all Masons, promoted the same ideals of being a good man and a good citizen.
Vote-by-mail ballots arrived in our mailboxes. Now is the time to get informed. Learn about what each candidate represents. Learn about the issues and propositions you’ll be seeing on this year’s ballot. Each council, mayoral, legislative, U.S. representative or senator, gubernatorial, even presidential candidate has unique points of view that could impact your everyday life if elected.
Just vote. And if you don’t know how to vote or where to vote, there’s still time. Vote.Utah.gov is a great place to start to find all the information you need to make your voice really count on Nov. 8.
Wes Ing was raised in Moab and currently leads Utah Masons as the head of Utah’s Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons.