Column – Your vote matters because it’s your voice

Published 6:40 pm Friday, October 28, 2022

Voters (of voting age, which is 18) will go to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 8, to cast their ballots. It’s the midterm elections across the United States.

435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 of 100 seats in the U.S. Senate will be contested, in addition to the majority of states’ governors, attorneys general, secretaries of state, treasurers, legislators, and cities’ (or counties’) mayor, councilmembers, sheriffs, assessors, clerks, commonwealth’s attorneys, and members of board of supervisors and school boards.

In fact, in-person early voting has already begun in various states, such as Virginia (from Sep. 23 to Nov. 5).

Well, after candidates have debated, campaigning is now in full swing across our country. Placards, with their names, in bold letters, are seen or distinctly displayed in yards and along the streets

It’s that time of year again when candidates (for election or reelection) are busy reaching out to the electorates with their best rhetoric and promises.

Like it or not, we’re already bombarded with political ads everywhere — TV, radio, print and social media, on roadside and even in private yards.

Some of the campaign ads are getting nasty and negative, at times confusing, and downright misleading. Sometimes it seems that the more ads we’re exposed to, the harder it is to tell what is factual and truthful.

Of course, candidates have their own agendas. They do what it takes to win, even to the point of resorting to mudslinging in order to disparage their opponents.

They bombard us with negative ads that are questionable, controversial and insulting to our intelligence.

Sometimes, we feel we just don’t want to turn the television on because we don’t want to see any more of these paid political ads. We’re disappointed, disgusted and dismayed by what the candidates try to do, to destroy or discredit the other, just to win votes. Look what politics has become! That’s politics, as usual?

Of course, money plays a major part in politics. Politicians, old and new, have tried their best to raise as much campaign funding as they can in their efforts to outdo their competitor. The more money politicians raise the more political ads they can buy (in TV, radio, print and social media).

But, more money raised does not necessarily translate to more votes, right?

Folks, get informed and educated about the candidates and their qualifications, what their positions or views are, where they stand, on issues such as abortion, public education, economy, immigration, gun laws, school safety, teacher shortage, mental health, student loan forgiveness, Russian invasion of Ukraine, climate change, environmental responsibility, cybersecurity and other issues and concerns affecting our well-being, peace, safety, and security in our community, city, state, and country, and our world in general.

“Being informed is an American responsibility,” opined Joseph Bass, who used to write opinion articles in this publication. “Having educated, informed voters is a key element for a democracy to be effective. The people’s votes can result in the government going the right way or the wrong way,” he added.

He urged voters to pay attention to and investigate the qualifications of candidates, and “vote for the most qualified.”

Res E. Spears III, former editor of the Suffolk News-Herald, once wrote: “smart voting requires good information.”

Dear folks, there’s still time to do your homework and research about the candidates. Know the facts and the truth before deciding who gets your vote on Tuesday, Nov. 8, unless you’re done casting your ballot during the early voting period (Sep. 23 to Nov. 5).

If you want your government to be responsive to your needs, do elect the most qualified candidates who will put public interest first, rather than his or her personal welfare.

Find out what they have done for the common good. Focus on their track records as effective and efficient public servants, who are committed to improve the economic condition, the dignity and worth of all people in the community.

Stick to the candidates who can get things done or who can deliver, the ones who consistently promote unity and inclusivity, peace and equality, without compromising their principles.

Your vote matters because it’s your voice. If you want to be heard, to effect change and reforms in our government, cast your ballot on Nov. 8.

There’s a consequence to ballots not cast. Blame no one but you, if the candidate you didn’t like has won the election. So, don’t waste that sacred ballot of yours. Don’t waste that opportunity to be heard. Speak up with your precious vote, your voice in the democratic process and world of politics.

Exercise your right of suffrage by going to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Do it for our children, our students and devoted teachers, military veterans, and our seniors. Do it for democracy, for a better, safer, stronger, peaceful America and the world.

Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk and Chesapeake. Email him at chris.a.quilpa@gmail.com.