West: Didn't vote? Don't gripe!

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There's one thing very noticeable when you go vote.

Most, if not all, the voters are 50 years old or older.

In my case, that may be due to when I go to vote. This time, as usual, I voted early because election day is a busy time for the news business. I voted on a Saturday and was happy to note that among the sparse ranks of voters, there was a first-time voter. She had registered and voted for her cousin who was seeking election.

Voting should be a habit. My parents and their parents (my grandparents) voted religiously. They never missed a chance to cast a ballot.

My family continues to vote. The one exception is my daughter, who refuses to even register to vote. She believes that its pointless and is prepared to argue endlessly. I usually give up before mentioning the Bush/Gore election in 2000. That presidential race was a dead-on tie that Gore could have won if he carried his home state of Tennessee.

But that's ancient history.

My thought has always been "bad officials are elected by good citizens who don't vote."

But actually how can you be called a "good citizen" if you don't vote?

A good citizen should be determined to vote either in person or by absentee vote.

To vote absentee in Tennessee, the voter must fall under certain characteristics including:

The voter will be outside the county of registration during the early voting period and all day on election day;

The voter is sixty (60) years of age or older;

The voter has a physical disability and an inaccessible polling place;

You can see the other 14 or 15 reasons for voting absentee at http://sos.tn.gov/products/elections/absentee-voting#6

To request a by-mail absentee ballot, mail, fax or email with an attached document which includes a scanned signature the following information directly to the Election Commission Office, Room 244 301 West Main Street, Woodbury, 37190. The document must include:

1. Name of the registered voter

2. Address of the voter's residence

3. Voter's social security number

4. Voter's date of birth

5. Address to mail the ballot outside the county (this applies only when the reason for voting by mail involves that the voter will be outside of the county during early voting and on election day)

6. The election in which the voter wishes to participate. If the election involves a primary, the political party in which the voter wishes to participate.

7. Reason the voter wishes to vote absentee. If applicable, a copy of the CDL containing the CDL number or the TWIC card must be included in the voter's request.

8. Voter's signature

And why are we telling you this after the election?

Because, the Presidential Election is coming up in November. If you have not registered to vote, there's no time like the present.

The 30th day before each election is the deadline to register to vote. You can registered in person at the Election Commission or you can do it by mail. http://www.cannoncountyelections.com/1324390844/get-registered/

Your by-mail registration form must be postmarked by that date in order to be processed for the upcoming election. Registration received after the deadline will be processed after the election.

Personally, I find voting a little exciting. Try it, you might like it.

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Mike West Column
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