Friday, Jul 01, 2016
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Rose Russell

The minority vote is vitally important

Look, it's pretty critical now. Whatever else you have to do on Tuesday, it's imperative that you go vote.

OK. Let's set aside cynical remarks about this or that candidate and issue. Of course, I know it's tough for a passionate political observer to say nothing, even for a little while.

But the fact is that unless every one of you goes to the polls on Election Day, somebody else will make very important decisions for you. Like it or not, those decisions will affect your life.

Not voting on Tuesday is inexcusable, and it is particularly so for black Americans, for whom that right was won with bloodshed and through intense humiliation.

Indeed, I know stuff happens that upsets one's day. But barring the unforeseen which makes going to vote absolutely impossible, then not even a very bad day is a good enough excuse for not voting. This has been billed as one of the most important presidential elections - one that's too close to call - in decades, and your participation in it is vitally important.

The polls in Ohio and in Michigan are open for 13 hours on Election Day, allowing all the chance to cast their ballot choices. Ohio polls are open between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. In Michigan, they are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

If you work in the daytime, go vote before or after work. Allow plenty of time - to stand in line and chat with neighbors and the senior citizens who work the polls - if the tightness of the race produces a heavier-than-expected turnout.

If you work afternoons and evenings, vote in the daytime. If you work midnights, well, you pretty much have all day to vote.

Go vote on your lunch hour if you have to. Or take the kids. There's nothing like demonstrating your civic duty before your children. Call in a sitter for an hour or so, if need be.

It's not too late to quickly organize an effort in which volunteers drive senior citizens, the ailing, disabled, or anybody else who doesn't have transportation to the polls.

U.S. Rep. Eleanor Norton Holmes said during her visit to Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church that not a single church bus should sit idle on Election Day. The Republican Party is banking on the poor and blacks staying home, she said.

Indeed, the GOP may hope that Election Day is blustery and rainy. Voter turnout is low when the weather is inclement. Most people prefer to stay inside.

But not one minority or poor person should give anybody the joy of not seeing black folks and poor folks at the polls on Election Day. If the rain is torrential, the clouds dark, the temperature cold, go vote anyway.

If you haven't learned about the candidates and issues, it's not too late. Furthermore, The Blade's Pages of Opinion will soon publish a ballot highlighting endorsements. Our own, of course. Watch for it. Take it with you to the polls. That's what it's for. Or disregard it. That's the beauty of the system.

Just get out and vote. This election is that important.

Rose Russell is a Blade associate editor.

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