Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 14, 2000

Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / October 14, 2000

From time to time, I talk about the need and necessity of all qualified American citizens to register to vote and to vote whenever the opportunity arises.

It’s a vital function in the machinery of government, to let those in office know exactly how we stand by how we vote (or whether we vote).

One of the most common excuses for not voting is “I forgot.” That’s no goodexcuse. It simply doesn’t wash. There’s enough media coverage of practically every election, large or small, which comes down the pike to make sure everyone knows of every election.

Granted, there are some ballots which can be overwhelming, such as when the Louisiana Legislature floats past a raft of constitutional amendments, few of which any of us can understand while scratching our heads in the voting booths.

However, it is important that we vote, and educate ourselves about the candidates and the issues at every turn to enable us to make intelligent decisions.

As it turns out though, the concept of majority-rule government is a myth, since millions of Americans let a minority – those who show up at the polls – make decisions for us.

One of the most common excuses for not registering to vote is an attempt to avoid jury duty. That’s just poor citizenship, and our high school civicsteachers should come back and smack us upside the head for that idea.

As it turns out, most clerks of court are using means to broaden their jury pools, taking for example driver’s license numbers to fill their jury pools. Iapplaud this, as I feel everyone should have the chance to serve on a jury at least once.

On Wednesday morning, I reported for jury duty. I didn’t mind terribly,although there was certainly no lack of work waiting for me once I got back.

However, as I’ve served twice before on juries, I knew what to expect and didn’t mind it a bit.

Certainly, I minded having to sit for about six hours watching TV and zipping through two and half books, and spilling a splash of coffee on my pants leg, and the mindless tedium.

But when I was finally herded into a courtroom to answer questions about my fitness to serve in the trial of a man charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, I was fascinated.

I didn’t make the cut. I was back at work on Thursday. I came out ahead,though.

I learned a bit more about the definition of various forms of criminal possession.

I learned a bit more about the fairness of testimony and whether a police officer’s word should be accepted above anyone else’s.

I’m caught up on my reading. I had an enjoyable lunch with three very niceladies, including two registered nurses and a housewife.

And I learned this wonderful dried flowers arrangement from Martha Stewart.

See the good that jury duty can do?

LEONARD GRAY is a reporter for L’Observateur.

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