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By Mel White 

The most American thing we can do

On the Bright Side


August 29, 2020

Mel White

With a nod to the old joke about illegal voting, I say to you in all seriousness: "Vote early and vote often." I do not, as in the joke, mean for you to vote often in the same election. But I do mean for you to vote often as in, "Vote in every election that comes along."

By the time you are reading this, both the Democratic and Republican conventions will be over and the next major election will be just a couple of short months away, meaning the campaigning on both sides and for various issues will be thrown at us in full force. Remember, you can only vote once in this upcoming presidential election, but just be sure you do, in fact, make an effort to honor your right to vote and actually get your ballot in, in a timely manner.

And thanks to mail-in voting, you can vote early this year, too – I know some of you have been doing this for years but now we all have that option – which is why I'm starting early to remind you how important voting is. Personally I have always enjoyed the ritual of going to my polling place and physically marking my ballot (usually with "cheat sheet" in hand so I can remember all the things I need to remember) but this year I do believe I will fill out my ballot at home and then drop it off at my polling place.

I've also offered to help make sure other folks can get their ballots in whenever they are ready (I've offered rides or a pick-up). You can do the same for your friends and family, too, to help make sure every vote gets in on time and every vote gets counted. No excuses for not voting.

Voting is a great privilege, and a duty, and we are fortunate to have the right to vote for the people who will serve us and the propositions and laws that will guide us. If we don't vote, our American way of life will become dictated by the few who do go to voice an opinion, which is, actually, a fine way to defeat the American way of life. If all Americans are to remain free and in control of their own lives and destinies, then all Americans need to take part in the process of making decisions.

I believe in the American process of making choices by voting, even as I also know that many Americans will not bother to vote at all. And as irritating as the campaigning and advertising may be, the idea of someone just blowing off the opportunity to vote is even more irritating. Voting is how we keep America free; the right to vote to determine our own character as a nation and to be well represented as a people is what we have been fighting for for centuries.

Being busy isn't the only excuse people use for not voting; some people actually claim they don't think their vote will count, so they don't vote at all. To me that's like someone saying, "I'm not important enough to have an opinion," or "I'm not smart enough to make good choices." The more votes that are cast shows us what more Americans are thinking and wanting.

We all count and we are all important to the process. We are all smart enough to vote, if we only take a few moments to study the candidates and the issues. All of us have a right to help make decisions, to let our elected officials know how we feel about things; all of us should have a say in who those elected officials are going to be. All of our voices matter, whether we end up on the winning side or the losing side.

Election day is a day when we are all reminded that the government is there to serve us, and that we are in control of the people we elect and the laws and issues we favor or reject. We are in charge, and we can keep it that way by voting. But this year, thanks to mail-in voting, election time starts about a month before election day.

So whether you vote early in October or on November 3 – or any time in between – this election period is the time to do the most American thing we can ever do in America: vote.

© Marilda Mel White. Mel is a local photographer/writer and co-owner of the Treasure Trove. She’s voted in every election since 1970 and has looked on the bright side for various publications since 1996. She welcomes your comments at


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