As we approach Election Day, I want to take some time to remind everyone of the value of their vote and the blessing it is to live in a country where we can freely make our voices and opinions heard.
A core principle of America is the idea that every person should have a voice in the political process, and scores of American soldiers have fought to protect this vital democratic right and preserve our representative democracy.
President Abraham Lincoln summarized it well in the Gettysburg Address: “It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from those honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion…that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
As you prepare to vote on Nov. 3, I encourage you to preview your ballot online at okvoterportal.okelections.us so you have adequate time to research each candidate and state question. Every Oklahoman will have the opportunity to vote for president, U.S. senator, their U.S. representative and on two state questions, as well as judicial retentions. Many Oklahomans will also vote for their state legislators, local elected offices or city ballot measures.
With so many races on the ballot and so much at stake, it’s important to thoroughly research each candidate’s qualifications and positions so you can vote for the candidate that best aligns with your beliefs and morals.
Local races may not garner as much attention as federal elections, but there is no doubt that they directly affect our day-to-day lives. These elected officials choose the start time for your kids’ schools, which city roads should be repaired and how to best spend your tax dollars.
Local races historically have a lower voter turnout than presidential elections, but they are no less important. Many local and state elections are decided by a very small group of voters. Every vote makes a huge difference in an election.
If you still think your vote can’t make much of a difference, just remember the 2000 presidential election in which George W. Bush won Florida’s Electoral College votes by only 537 votes. By making their opinion heard, those 537 voters changed the course of American history.
Here in Oklahoma, the Republican nomination for state attorney general was won by just 269 votes in 2018. In June, State Question 802 passed by less than a single percentage point. It’s not uncommon for school board and city council races to be decided by a dozen votes or less.
Low voter turnout in these races makes a single vote on these important local issues and offices even more statistically significant. Decisions are made by those who show up.
Those who vote have a powerful impact on the course of public policy and government. Even in the 21st century, many people around the world are not guaranteed the same freedom you and I have to voice our opinions. Our representative democracy is something we should not take for granted.
No matter how you vote or whom you vote for, your voice helps shape your community, state and country. You have a say in what goes on in your government. Take advantage of your freedom to vote and let your voice be heard.
It’s truly an honor and privilege to represent you and House District 51 at the State Capitol. God bless!