Vote Your Principles, Politics, Pocketbook or Passion

In this and every election season, it’s crucial that we exercise this hard-won, hard-kept right

September 2020

Richard G. Johnstone Jr., Executive Editor

On Nov. 3, Virginians and Marylanders will elect members of Congress, vote on constitutional amendments, pick the winning candidates vying for various municipal offices … and, oh, by the way, also elect or reelect a president and vice president.

Please be sure to exercise your right to help determine these outcomes. Vote for the better candidate, whether you think the field is desirable or leaves a lot to be desired.

It’s a right that a majority of the world’s residents only dream about or hope for, many of them reduced to “voting” in sham elections in one-party states.

However, thanks to Providence, our nation’s founders and millions of courageous men and women — all willing to stand up to protect it — we possess this most-precious of all rights: self-determination.

Peril awaits and loss inevitably follows, though, for any human possession that’s not tended and defended. No external enemy is as formidable as internal apathy.

Even in presidential elections, the right to vote is often exercised by just slightly more than half of registered voters.

This underwhelming turnout is often explained by inclement weather, irritation or anger at petty political partisanship, weary resignation over an assumed outcome … or cynicism as to the relevance of any outcome.

But low turnout among registered voters is only part of the problem; about 30% of eligible American citizens of voting age are not even registered.

If you’re not, please do so. And whether you’ve been registered for many decades or mere days, be sure to vote and exercise this precious right.

Don’t let anger or apathy be your guiding light. Let your involvement honor a remarkable process put in place 231 years ago, a process whose success hinges on average people like us electing representatives who will convert good ideas into sound public policy.

At a minimum, we should vote as a meager way of honoring those who in the 1770s pledged their lives and liberty to make this right possible, and to those subsequent generations who’ve preserved it over and over again by putting life and limb at risk.

So, if you’re enthusiastic about, or even merely satisfied with, one of the choices, vote.

If you’re dissatisfied with all of them, make a difficult decision and vote.

Vote your conscience; vote your values; vote your interests. But be sure to vote. To participate in the process. To express your views through the ballot box.

Social media, traditional media and politicos may influence, but do not determine, who runs our nation. We do.

Whether you’re confident about the prospects of your preferred candidate, merely hopeful, or even resigned to disappointment, remember: The only “wasted” vote is the vote that isn’t cast.

So, on Nov. 3, exercise this right so hard-won by our forebears and so hard- kept by brave Americans for over two centuries since.

For more information on how electric co-ops across the country are encouraging voter registration and voting, visit; for specific information on Virginia, visit; and for Maryland, visit

As the late congressman, physician and political commentator Walter Judd noted: “People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote — a very different thing.”

Be a difference-maker. Vote!