Robert Gillis
Published in The Foxboro Reporter September 2000

This morning’s mail brought a little red booklet, “The official Massachusetts information for voters.”

Now, quick show of hands. How many of you got the same book?

Right. Most of you. Well, the registered voters, anyway.

Now, how many of you are going to read it?

Uh-huh, that’s a lot less hands. Wait, how many of you plan to vote on November 7?

Right, that’s what I thought. I myself missed primary vote on September 19 due to what I call a “very bad technology day” at work, but come November I’ll be voting. I try to never miss a vote.

Only 18 percent of Foxboro’s 10,242 registered voters cast ballots in this last election, and it’s likely that voter turnout in November will also be small. This isn’t a Foxboro problem, or even a local problem. It’s been well documented that voter turnout in America has been underwhelming for years.

In the last presidential election in 1996, the turnout was 49 percent of the eligible voters, the lowest since 1924 and much lower than the 55 percent in 1992.

The reasons for this low turnout are many and varied. Some people are just disgusted with American politics. Others feel that their opinion doesn’t matter, that presidential elections are so over-hyped, heated and malicious that they want to distance themselves from it all. Or they feel that their vote—in any kind of election—doesn’t change anything. Some feel their not voting makes a statement.

But here’s the bottom line. Far too many people feel the same way, so nothing changes. Your vote does matter. Your right to vote—to elect your leaders and enact and change laws—is a privilege, a sovereignty and freedom that many have died to protect. Imagine how angry you’d be if free elections were abolished in America. Then you’d wish you had the right to vote!

You have a responsibility to be informed, to understand the process, and to vote.

When you write a letter to the editor, attend a town meeting; get involved in your community… when you vote… you’re part of the process. Be part of the process.

This November, we elect a new president, and vote for senators and representatives. Locally, there are eight important questions on the Massachusetts ballot. We also have an opportunity to send Mike Coppola to Beacon Hill. I believe that Mike, like Barbara Hyland before him, will represent Foxboro well.

Folks, come November 7, you need to vote. If you’re eligible and not registered, register now. It’s very easy. Then read. Listen. Watch. Get informed. Read more. Get all the information you can.

And on Election Day, go to the polling place and cast an informed vote. Be part of the process. Make a difference.

End of speech.

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