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Daze of My Life/The Signs Make It Clear

by Kenneth B. Lourie

Theyíre back. Everywhere and in every color. Candidates - staking their claims in the ground - that name recognition, if nothing else, matters.

Every four years around this time, it is incumbent on all us registered Maryland voters to participate in the democratic process and elect to vote.

Moreover, it is of primary importance, especially to the candidates still listed on the ballot, that the citizens state their personal preference by touching the computer screen on the key pad and to advance through the ballot answering questions (propositions) and questioning answers (candidates), taking time along the way to carefully follow instructions to ensure that their ballot is not only counted but completed as well.

No more are there any hanging chads - in Montgomery County, anyway - to blur the intentions of the electorate who committed the time and made the effort to make their voices heard. Now, thanks to computers, all voters who enter the polls will exit knowing that their one vote for one man or one woman will indeed be counted, electronically, without any interference - or interpretation - from the board of elections supervisors. Ultimately, the goal remains the same - to encourage participation of as many eligible voters as possible, both present and absentee, whether they are in-state or out, and to provide an accurate and fair accounting for the principals involved.

As for myself, Iíve always looked forward to Election Day. In fact, Iíve made it a point, whenever possible, to go to the polls with my wife, Dina. Iíve felt - and still do - that polling together, though we are of different party affiliations (so what else is new) has brought us closer, not in our opinions or political preference but rather in our commitment to our country. Thereís something about exercising your patriotic duty that seems uniting, somehow. Our joint participation confirms our declaration of independence - not necessarily from one another - and our mutual desire for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Furthermore, when we vote, it reaffirms that we have certain inalienable rights and constitutionally protected freedoms that exist in very few places outside of the United States.

This transfer - or continuation of power to the people - begins for many voters at the polls, every two years. We are all reminded, then, of what makes America great - opportunity. And when I see the multitude of signs popping up, seemingly overnight, all over the county (paid for by the Committee to Elect...), I smile, knowing that the process is so open.

The candidates seem to be from many diverse backgrounds. Yet despite their differences, they still feel the opportunity exists for them to win. I may not actually know any of them personally, but in essence I feel as if I know all of them. Public service is not for cowards. It takes courage and conviction and sacrifice. And when you consider the effort required by the candidates to run for office - raising money, assembling a staff, organizing a campaign, etc. -voting is the least I can do, and furthermore, is my way of honoring their commitment to the community. They deserve our respect and appreciation.

Because candidates competing in an election have to answer to a higher authority: the voters, not just themselves.

Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.

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