Voting, worth the trouble

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First things first: If you havent voted yet, you may want to consider setting aside the newspaper right now and heading straight to the neighborhood polling place. The polls close at 6 p.m.

Feel free to pause at this point ...

Welcome back, and congratulations on taking advantage of the sort of right that brave Americans have fought and died to preserve for 230 years now their sacrifices to be honored in the upcoming Memorial Day holiday. While the fundamental act of political self-determination remains unavailable to millions around the world in the 21st century, too many who are empowered to vote will choose to ignore the privilege today, even in a community that is reputedly the most political in Kentucky.

To be sure, this has not been the most passionate primary election campaign in the history of Franklin County. There were so few candidates for City Commission that the primary was called off in that race a reflection, some say, of the imbalance between the rewards of public service and the personal and economic liabilities that often accompany it. On the other hand, there has been no shortage of interest in the campaigns for jailer and sheriff, which have seen a veritable thicket of campaign signs sprout around the county. Uneventful elections can still offer American citizens the opportunity to make meaningful decisions.

Todays election is also notable for advances in accessibility that should make the process easier for voters with disabilities a condition that eventually includes most of us if we live long enough. Some polling places were moved because original locations lacked ramps or had high curbs. And the primary offers 44 new electronic E-slate voting machines which allow voters to rotate a wheel-button through the options shown on an easy-to-read screen. County Clerk Guy Zeigler says voters with limited mobility should find this device simpler to manage than the conventional touch screen. Each precinct has two voting booths, allowing voters to choose which they prefer to use.

Perhaps the day will come when well all vote from home on personal computers, with results instantly posted on the Internet. And maybe that level of convenience will finally bring about the sort of public participation that has been so elusive in most elections. But in 2006, voting still requires a certain amount of human contact, sometimes (not often enough, really) even standing in line. Considering the price that others have paid throughout American history, it seems little enough to ask.

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