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My Turn
Other Views from Those in the Know
Jack Levine
founder, 4Generations Institute
Top 10 Reasons to Vote

Voting is not just a right, it’s a sacred responsibility. It takes a few minutes but has impact for years. When I think of the many who've struggled, suffered, fought and died for our right to vote, I'm motivated all the more to have my voice be heard.

My Grandma Minnie picketed for women's suffrage as an immigrant teenage girl in New York. She voted for the first time after the 19th Amendment took effect in 1920 and never missed a vote in her life -- all 91 years.

Her daughter Ruth, my mother, took me by the hand to watch her and my father vote. My dad was blind, so he had to have a poll-watcher vote with him, but he always voted. They listened to the election results at the edge of their seats. Everyone in my family took civic responsibilities so seriously that it was impossible for me to grow up without that same set of values.

Today, the pollsters are busy making their case for how voters are leaning. The pundits are sharpening their sound bites. And the commercials, mail fliers and phone calls are flooding in. But in the end, it's we, the voters, who hold the power to decide who will lead our nation, our states and our communities.

Here, then, are my Top 10 Reasons to Vote:

- To honor those in our military who courageously fight for us, and our law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency workers who respond to our needs and defend the peace at home. Those who sacrifice their personal well-being in the name of our safety and security deserve our respect.

- To honor people who've struggled for civil rights, women’s suffrage and the ideals of justice for all. Freedom needs affirmation.

- To be a good example to our children and grandchildren by exercising a symbol of our faith in democracy. By voting, we send an important signal of the choices we as adults make to secure a better future for ourselves, our children and generations to come.

- Voting is our society’s great equalizer. No matter our station in life, income, ethnic heritage or social status, every citizen over age 18 has the same power of one vote.

- Pollsters do not determine who wins elections; voters do. Predicting the outcome of elections, especially close ones, is at best an inexact science. Pollsters and political pundits have their roles, but like each of us, they only have one vote.

- Elections should not be about negative ads, it should be about our options to promote positive policy actions. Voting for candidates in whom we believe, and for or against ballot initiatives we know will affect our future, is a perfect counterbalance to the flood of negativity polluting the airwaves and filling our mailboxes.

- While voting is now a bit less convenient than in previous years, access to registration information and early voting are still available for people who want their voices heard. Democracy is a team sport. Spectators simply don't count.

- It's vital to be an informed voter. Pay attention to news reports and editorials about the campaigns. While how we vote is confidential, the fact that we have voted, or failed to vote, is public record. Elected officials know which individuals and demographic groups are voting, and those who vote are more likely to have influence in policy debates. Non-voters are voiceless and by not participating, can become victims of their own neglect.

- Regret is preventable. November 7th is one day too late. "Could have, should have" are sorry alternatives to acting. Have a “no excuses” attitude by committing to vote, asking others to join you in voting, and promoting a positive approach to making a difference among family, friends and colleagues.

Be part of making history. Because every indicator suggests the 2012 election will have impact for years, every vote is even more important. As a Floridian, I know how close elections can be. Being a participant in affecting history gives each of us a sense of pride in democracy and the power to touch the future.

Jack Levine is the founder of 4Generations Institute. He can be reached at [email protected].                                          

by Dr. Radut.