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Lynn Spruill: Inspiring voter registration

 

Lynn Spruill

 

 

The presidential election has, by all accounts, been an unpleasant experience regardless political affiliation. I have not found a single person enthused or engaged about the major party candidates.  

 

Most everyone who is willing to discuss it says they are voting against someone instead of voting in favor of someone. It is a tortured trail that brings us to such a place and time. Social media is in its heyday and we are inundated with fact checking and speculation that ends up being white noise rarely changing the course of our decisions.  

 

Like many of my acquaintances and colleagues, I watched the debates hoping against hope there wouldn't be some gaff on either side that would perpetuate the sense of the absurd or embarrass us in the eyes of our allies. It was a pretty low bar to meet.  

 

Neither candidate made any great revelations nor did I find anyone who was moved to change their position or embrace any thoughts yet unexpressed by either candidate. Everyone I spoke with who watched the debate saw the version that supported their preexisting decisions.  

 

Clearly this isn't going to go into the annals of what might be our finest hour. I find myself once again searching for the upside of something and getting only a marginal return on the investment.  

 

If there is an upside, it may be the increase in voter registration we're seeing. I guess everyone wants to get a chance to vote against one or the other.  

 

Maybe we are accustomed to the routine of the Survivor series and they want to vote them off the presidential island.  

 

From Denver to Palm Beach to Charlotte, there are media reports of large upticks in voter registration numbers. The results reported are of greater numbers of Hispanic and young first-time eligible voters.  

 

It seems there is a rite of passage for those coming of age to vote in an election for president as the first vote they cast. To be honest, We did all agree that failing to vote engenders a sense of guilt. I know there was something about being in the military that fostered an abiding obligation for me to vote whenever there is an election.  

 

I have encountered various levels of pushback on why someone either doesn't vote or isn't registered to vote. The one I hear most often is the attempt to avoid jury duty. That's not something I think I would admit. How do you shirk a duality of your civic duties and responsibilities: voting and jury duty?  

 

National Voter Registration Day was held recently and there were a number of local efforts to make registration as easy as possible. I know the MSU Student Association set up to help the students. The Oktibbeha Circuit Clerk's office reported over 1,800 new voter registrations.  

 

So everyone is getting ready for the national election. That is the easy one. The statewide elections are far more impacted by your vote than the presidential electoral college representatives.  

 

When it comes time to vote and really make a difference in your daily life, you can't beat the local elections. In Starkville the local races are often tied or within five votes. If you didn't vote because you thought your vote wouldn't count or you were just too lazy, we all lose.  

 

We could just hold our noses and vote for the one who smells the least offensive. 

 

Or maybe it will lead to an understanding that citizenship starts with accepting the rigors and inconveniences of democracy. Maybe this election will yield better, more educated citizens who will step up and make voting part of their lifetime commitment to our national freedom.  

 

Here's hoping. 

 

Lynn Spruill, a former commercial airline pilot, elected official and city administrator owns and manages Spruill Property Management in Starkville. Her email address is [email protected]

 

 

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