The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 4, 2012

It’s your right

Go register, then get out and vote


— The General Election is now just a little more than a month away — are you registered to vote?

The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 16.

Candidates are out delivering their messages asking for your vote, yet many people fail to exercise their right to chose our elected public servants.

You have to endure their relentless campaigning, so why not be educated on the issues and make your vote count.

There are really no excuses for not voting.

There’s an absentee ballot. The qualifications for voting this way are:

— Personal or business travel

— Attendance at a college, university, or other place of education or training;

— Illness, injury, or other medical reason which keeps you confined;

— Immobility due to advanced age or a physical disability;

— Incarceration or detention in jail or home;

— Absent uniformed service member, spouse or dependent, or an overseas voter as defined by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act of 1986;

— Employment which because of hours worked and distance from the county seat makes voting in person impossible;

— Service as an elected or appointed state or federal officer;

— Temporary assignment by your employer for a specific period of four years or less;

— The county absentee voting office and your polling place are inaccessible due to physical disability

And there’s early voting. It begins 13 days before the election and continues until three days before the election.

You say you have to be at work, so you can’t make it to the polls? That won’t ‘work’ either. According to the Secretary of State’s office, “Employees who do not have 3 hours of their own time during polling hours are entitled to up to 3 paid hours leave to vote. The employee must demand leave in writing at least three days before Election Day. In certain essential operations, employers receiving written request can schedule the hours when employees will be allowed to leave to vote.”

Check with your county clerk for more information on utilizing these useful tools.

In last year’s special election in West Virginia, only 25 percent of registered voters turned out to vote — a total of 304,145 people. Earl Ray Tomblin gathered just 150,732 votes in a state with about 1.8 million residents, narrowly defeating challenger Bill Maloney.

With just one quarter of our state’s population making decisions for all of us, doesn’t that seem like a sad state of affairs?

Are we apathetic?

Perhaps.

But the only way voter apathy can be overcome is by getting out and vote. The 2012 election is a great place to start reversing the trend.

If you are 18 or older, get out and do the American thing. Vote.

For more information, visit the West Virginia Secretary of State’s website: www.sos.wv.gov.