This year we have we have many elective posts in Loudoun County that will be filled with candidates in opposition to each other for the countywide board of supervisors, for constitutional offices, for the school board, for the soil and water board, and for the general assembly.
These offices generally and specifically determine policy that intimately affects the lives of each and every person living in the County.
But many won’t vote.
Indeed, it is highly likely that non-voters will determine the election by failing to vote; the number of non-voters is so large, it’s often referred to as the party of non-voters.
One observer noted that maybe what we are losing among the non-voters are a disproportionate number of the uninformed and uneducated who wouldn’t vote intelligently anyhow.
That may sound harsh but there is data that those with more schooling and more income are much more likely to vote in any election.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “A nation that expects to be ignorant and free expects what never was and never will be.”
What that means is, if you’re going to vote, no matter the education or income, you must inform yourself about the candidates and the issues.
The greatest engine for political freedom is the freedom to have a say in your government, to choose who represents your interests, to vote. We should cherish that right.
When the barons of England confronted King John in 1215 in London with force of arms, the King agreed that the Barons could overrule the King should he break the agreement he made with them. King John broke his word the instant the Barons left London. But the Magna Carta was an aspiration to defy the monarch and was found by Sir Edward Coke to encompass not only the nobles but all the subjects of the crown.
Our Virginia Charter of 1606 was drafted by Sir Coke and it said we would enjoy all the liberties of any Englishman.
But that’s not what happened.
When Thomas Jefferson wrote that governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the Governed,” it was because King George III governed without our consent. Jefferson charged in the Declaration of Independence that the King “dissolved [our] Representative Houses” because they opposed “with manly Firmness [the King’s] Invasions on the Rights of the People,” “impos[ed] taxes …without our consent,” and unilaterally decided the laws that bound us.
50,000 colonials killed or wounded was the price we paid in a revolution to represent ourselves.
In our Constitution in 1787, “we the people” pledged that we would “form a more perfect union,” and our institutions have since become “more perfect,” extending the vote to persons of color, and to women, and having Senators chosen by the people instead of by the several state legislatures.
There are nation-states where the people are forced to vote and taxed if they don’t. Not here.
There are nation-states that intimidate and brutalize those who vote the wrong way. Not here.
When I was a young New York federal prosecutor, we would draw duty on Election Day to respond to any allegation of voter fraud. I never got a call.
Barriers to voting have been lessened by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawing discrimination against voters, and by the Help America Vote Act in 2000, reforming how we vote and setting standards for voting.
We have more work to do to “perfect” our system.
But we have the vote.
The history of individual liberty is the fight to vote. When we don’t vote, we put at risk our liberty. So let us all inform ourselves and vote if we truly want to be free!