Dont vote? Dont complain

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 28, 2000

DEAR EDITOR: As a citizen, I am very concerned about voter apathy. The Nov. 7 electionis a very important one. Besides being a presidential election, there aremany issues at stake. As an African-American, I have walked an incrediblejourney to obtain the right to vote and the hurdles to overcome in order to be able to exercise my right to vote because of the color of my skin. Voterapathy opens the door to political corruption. Low voter turnout enableillegal campaign practices such as vote-buying and voter fraud to determine the election outcome. Aside from being a civic duty to cast your vote in any given election, it is a privilege to do so. The 14th Amendment gave all Americans the right ofsuffrage, regardless of race, religion or previous condition of servitude. However, this guarantee in the Constitution was not so readily available to the black man. There were obstacles which prevented him from doingso. As late as the 1940s, in St. John the Baptist Parish, blacks had to filea class-action suit against the registrar of voters in order to vote. Thissuit was to end discriminatory practices designed to keep blacks from utilizing their right to vote. Even so, it was a slow process in convincingblacks that this was their right. I wish to impress on everyone eligible to vote how important it is to make your voice heard through the vote. Only when your vote is cast to changeconditions or unjust and unequal laws can we realize how powerful an instrument the vote can be. Many people are disgusted with the politicalsystem and politicians who do little to enhance the quality of life for all of the people. We cannot and will not change a system if we do notcollectively vote. Voter apathy must be addressed. If you do not vote, thenyou should not complain about stagnation and corruption in government. Things can change if we take control and get involved. We must vote tomake sure our voices are heard. A voteless people is a voiceless people.Exercise your right to vote. Wilhelmina Armour Reserve