It's worth the effort

Published: Saturday, November 1, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 31, 2008 at 11:42 p.m.

The latest polls suggest Candidate A will win the election by X percent.

There might be long lines at some precincts on Tuesday.

Deciphering the constitutional amendments on the ballot is a hassle.

So, is it worth the effort to vote today, the last day of early voting? Or on Tuesday, the culmination of a long election season?

If you're still on the fence, consider:

Polls are not the same as ballots, and have been wrong before. People change their minds and sometimes they are not truthful with pollsters.

If nothing else, the 2000 election in Florida should demonstrate how important every vote becomes in a close contest. The certified tally showed George W. Bush beat Al Gore by just 537 votes - an average of eight votes per county - to win the state's 25 electoral votes and the presidency.

The 2008 general election could produce a record turnout, and how that will affect the results is unclear. Some experts are predicting that Florida could have its "youngest" election in years, judging from the number of people in the under-35 age group who have recently registered to vote.

Polls indicate that younger voters are more likely on average to choose Obama. But experience shows that younger people are not as likely to vote as their older counterparts, who as a group lean more toward John McCain.

Along with the presidential contest on the ballot, there are competitive races that will decide who will represent this area in Congress, in the Legislature and in county government. In many ways, the decisions made by those officials have a greater impact on our everyday lives than those made in the White House.

While it is true that more people are taking advantage of early voting and crowds are swelling at sites around the state, that is no reason to leave the election process to others. Voting is, for most citizens, a right. It's also a privilege, a sign of civic engagement and an opportunity to influence government and the future.

The relatively brief amount of time required to vote is a small price to pay for a big investment in representative democracy.

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