Make your voice heard: Vote!

GUEST EDITORIAL

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GUEST EDITORIAL

Elections are always important, but the stakes are particularly high this year with our economy stuck in neutral and threatening to slip into reverse.

The economy will move forward only when employers feel confident enough to begin hiring. The choices voters make this November will either strengthen or weaken employer confidence.

When you mark your ballot, ask yourself, "Will my vote help create real private-sector jobs for me and my family? Will my vote put us on the path to reducing our crushing federal debt? Will my vote begin to reverse years of high unemployment?"

This will be a pivotal election and both camps will have their get-out-the-vote efforts. But voting is something Americans often take for granted. That is in stark contrast to the people of Iraq who braved death threats in 2005 to vote in their first free election.

By comparison, Americans have it easy. Perhaps too easy. Having the right to vote isn't enough - we have to use it!

Washington citizens are more active than most when it comes to voting. But even here, the number of people voting in major elections has dwindled over time.

According to the Secretary of State's office, back in 1952 nearly 91 percent of eligible adults in Washington were registered to vote, and 80 percent of them went to the polls.

In 2008, only 72 percent of eligible adults were registered. Even though a high percentage of them voted, the lower number of registered voters meant that only six out of ten eligible people voted.

What does that mean?

It means that four of every 10 adults let other people make decisions for them. They threw away the right to decide who leads their state and nation and what direction we take.

This is a big election year in Washington state. In addition to the governor's race between Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna, Secretary of State Sam Reed and Auditor Brian Sonntag are both retiring this year.

Initiative 1185 will let voters decide - again - if they want to require a two-thirds majority vote of the Legislature to increase taxes. Hopefully, the answer will be "yes" - again.

Initiative 1240 would allow charter public schools in Washington, one of only nine states without that option. Voters should say yes to this opportunity to provide parents with more choices for their children's education.

But however you vote . . . vote!

In spite of everything, some folks believe they can't make a difference. Not true.

Remember the 2004 Washington governor's race? It was the closest political race in U.S. history. Republican Dino Rossi was declared the winner in the initial automated count and again in the automated recount. It wasn't until after the second recount done by hand that Democrat Christine Gregoire was declared the winner by 129 votes.

The only way to guarantee you don't make a difference is to not vote. And, as the old timers say, if you don't vote, you can't complain.

Oct. 29 is the deadline to register in person.

General Election ballots will be mailed out to registered voters on Oct. 19. Your completed ballot must be postmarked no later than Election Day. (Remember to sign it.)

If you're dropping off your ballot in person, you must deposit it in a designated ballot drop box or at your county elections office by 8 p.m. on Election Day. Contact the Secretary of State's office or your county elections office for assistance.

Voting is easier - and more important -than ever these days. Vote.

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