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Hines Sight / If you don't vote, those blisters can really hurts

Published 11:41 am, Sunday, November 4, 2012
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Founding Father Alexander Hamilton once said, "A share in the sovereignty of the state, which is exercised by the citizens at large, in voting at elections is one of the most important rights of the subject, and in a republic ought to stand foremost in the estimation of the law."

How smart he was.

And statesman Daniel Webster's view was more broad, "Impress upon children the truth that the exercise of the elective franchise is a social duty of as solemn a nature as man can be called to perform; that a man may not innocently trifle with his vote; that every elector is a trustee as well for others as himself and that every measure he supports has an important bearing on the interests of others as well as on his own."

But my personal favorite came from Honest Abe Lincoln, "Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters."

How right he was.

Voting is the most important right we can exercise as American citizens. Come Tuesday, Nov. 6, we get the chance again.

The first time I voted was in 1976 -- the year the peanut farmer, Jimmy Carter, governor of Georgia and a Democrat, won over incumbent (sort of) President Gerald Ford, a Republican who had a long congressional career before he was tapped by disgraced President Richard Nixon to be his vice president after Spiro Agnew resigned in the face of a kickback scandal while in office.

The mid- to late-1970s was a tumultuous time, and I was caught up in it. I think the whole Watergate debacle during Nixon's time in office was when I started my lifelong journey as a political junkie.

I voted for Carter. It wasn't that I liked him over Ford (who I discovered later was really a very smart and decent man who served his country well), but rather that I got caught up in the post-Watergate distaste for Republicans.

I grew up in a Democratic household, but I am not registered with any party. I prefer it that way as a member of the Fourth Estate. I have views on both sides of the aisle. A friend one time referred to me as a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. (I seem to remember that the late Jacky Durrell, our first selectman from 1983 to 1993, was described as such too. Good company.)

I like to digest what the candidates have to say and where they stand. I indeed read all those mailings that come to my house. (But, seriously, the volume of campaign literature from Chris Murphy and Linda McMahon, candidates for U.S. Senate, has gone overboard.) I admit, though, that I hang up on robo and campaign calls.

Fairfield usually is a very civic-minded, active community. We get passionate about topics. And we've shown that we understand our right to vote. Though, sometimes turnout in non-presidential-election years is dismal. Upward of 35,000 Fairfielders are registered to vote, and the number is expected to rise once registration is over for this election cycle.

So with President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at the top of the ballot, I have great hope for Fairfield turning out in droves to the polls. The presidential campaign has been one of the more interesting ones in years. And it's too close to call, despite what pundits from both political persuasions have to say.

If you are one of those voters who have yet to decide who should get your vote, you can always check out the Fairfield League of Women Voters' Voter Guide, which can be viewed and read online at http://fairfield.lwvconnecticut.org/voter-guide-2012.html.

If you need to know where to vote, not only does the Voter Guide contain that information, but you can visit the town's website, www.fairfieldct.org, and click on the link for "Voter Info." That's where you also will find information on how to obtain an absentee ballot should your reason for not voting in person at the polls meets one of the criteria. Upward of 2,500 ballots had been issued as of Oct. 26.

(Notice I haven't given you any information on registering to vote. That's because you should be registered already. Besides the deadline for registration has passed unless you are new to town, then you have until 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5, to do so.)

So go and vote. Otherwise, remember what Abe said.

Patricia A. Hines is a Fairfield writer, and her "Hines Sight" appears every other Friday. She can be reached at hinessight@hotmail.com. She also can be followed at http://blog.ctnews.com/hines or @patricia_hines on Twitter.