We have read or heard all of the campaign advertisements. We have seen all of the campaign signs. And now, a full slate of candidates awaits citizens who will take the time to vote today in the West Virginia Primary Election.
While the fall General Election may be the main event, today's vote is much more than just an undercard. Today, voters will be deciding who they want to represent their parties in the November showdown.
Usually, primaries do not get the same percentage of voters that go to the polls in November. However, since this is a presidential election year, and since there are so many offices up for grabs - federal, state and local - a much larger turnout than usual is expected.
And that is a good thing.
We all have been given this wonderful gift from our forward-thinking Founding Fathers - the ability to participate in free and open elections. However, the founders were wrong in their belief that universal suffrage would lead to chaos and anarchy and the only way to prevent this was to limit the right to vote to certain groups - the monied and property-owning class of white males.
In the years following the founding, voting rights have been given to those who were originally denied: the poor, African-Americans, and women. And bringing other voices into the voting process has strengthened our country, not weakened it.
The real enemy of our free society has not been extending voting privileges, it has been the apathy that keeps people from exercising this right. In some ways apathy is somewhat understandable. Because of the money now needed to get elected, many people are either turned off by the whole process or do not feel a part of it.
However, one of the biggest reasons we have gotten to this point is because of apathy. An informed electorate is the only thing standing between the citizenry and chaos. We have the duty - the responsibility - to learn about campaigns, issues and candidates. Then, we have the responsibility to use that information to vote - for the person, or the issue, we feel will be the best for our city, state or country.
We urge all registered voters in West Virginia to go to the polls today and exercise their duty as an American citizen and vote.