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Editorial: There’s still time

It’s election day for part of Wasco County’s electorate — the part that lives in Northern Wasco County Parks and Recreation District.

If you are registered in that district, you still have until 8 p.m. Tuesday night to turn in your ballot at the Wasco County Courthouse on East Fifth and Washington streets. But don’t try to mail your ballot. It’s too late and even if the ballot is delivered, it will arrive too late to count.

The park district voters have a chance to decide whether or not to support replacing the existing pool at Thompson Park.

The Chronicle endorsed the pool replacement bond in an earlier editorial, but that’s not the point today.

Today, Tuesday, Nov. 5, is about the will of the voting public. And the best way to gauge the will of the public is for lots of voters to turn in their ballots.

So far, barely 40 percent of the 8,156 eligible voters have turned out to vote. We’d like to see that number go up by 20 percent or more on the last day of balloting.

The outcome would be notable for a one-issue ballot and offer a better reflection of the community’s political will. Does it take a little time? Yes. Will it make a big difference in the outcome? We won’t know until the ballots are counted — and that’s the beauty of voting.

Each one of us votes our conscience and drops the ballot in the box. If many agree, the issue wins — or loses — by a landslide. If opinion is divided enough, the decision may come down to one vote — yours.

As the New York Times pointed out in a 2005 editorial, the chances of that happening are slim. In the final analysis, few elections come down to only a handful of votes.

But those few are the ones that tend to strain our civility. The Bush-Gore election of 2000 is the prime example. Had a few more people voted, one way or another, the Supreme Court votes might not have been the only ones that counted.

Voting has always been considered a sacred right and duty in this country, but the people who turn out to help make our public choice seem to becoming fewer every year.

In some countries voting by adults is required by law. In others, people trek miles by foot for the privilege after living much of their life without the right. U.S. citizens have had the right and privilege for 224 years (blacks 143 years and women 94 years).

Is that all the time it takes to lose appreciation for the basic right designed to ensure freedom?

This election is about more than a pool. It’s about continuing to exercise the constitutional muscle that protects our rights.

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