To the editor:

Today, most Americans over the age of 18 are qualified to vote. Unfortunately, of those qualified to vote, on average only 60% of individuals actually do.

Voting is one of the key freedoms of being an American. Many people in countries around the world do not have the right to vote, nor did many Americans in decades past. This year celebrates 100 years since women gained the right to vote. And it wasn’t until 1965 that the Voting Rights Act was signed into law, prohibiting discriminatory practices against African Americans at the polls. That was only 55 years ago. People have died defending the right to vote.

I often hear people say, “It doesn’t pay, it’s not like my one vote is going to really count.” And if you have ever had that thought, I urge you to consider the presidential election of 2000. That year, Al Gore narrowly lost to George W. Bush. The election came down to a recount in Florida. When all was said and done, Bush won by only 537 votes. If 600 more Al Gore supporters would have went to the polls we would have had an entirely different president.

You can truly make a difference. Your vote matters! Exercising your right to vote is the only way to ensure that your voice is being heard. Do your homework and research the candidates and issues in your area. Read up on political issues and figure out where you stand. If you’re feeling inspired to do more, write letters to public officials and let them know what is important to you. Or, it can be as simple as having respectful dialogue with others in your community.

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Visit https://www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/ for more information on how and where to vote in your area.

Rebecca Fiedler

Rural Life coordinator – Eastern Region

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud, MN