I have been a registered voter since April of 1962. As I recall, I actually registered on my 21st birthday. I was then going to college in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Back then you had to be 21 years old to vote. The national voting age was lowered nine years later to 18. On March 10, 1971, the United States Senate voted 94–0 in favor of proposing a Constitutional amendment to guarantee the minimum voting age could not be higher than 18. On March 23, 1971, the House of Representatives voted 401–19 in favor of the proposed amendment.
This was during the Vietnam War. In fact, I was still on my tour in Vietnam when these votes took place. The reasoning was that if people could be drafted to go overseas and fight in a war they ought to have the right to help choose the government that was going to send them there.
The first ever election I voted in was the mid-term election of 1962, in Dona Ana County, New Mexico. There were some county officials. Back then New Mexico had one member of the House of Representatives—it now has three. I have voted in a lot of elections since.
My first Presidential election to vote in was in 1964—Lyndon Johnson challenged by Barry Goldwater. From that time on I have not missed a Presidential election vote and have only missed one mid-term election. I voted absentee when in Japan. While I was stationed in Michigan I voted locally and I voted locally once I was living in Texas.
Since my first election, all those many years ago, I have always considered voting to be a right, an honor and a sacred duty. I was born a U.S. citizen, but considered myself to be a full-fledged citizen that day that I became a voter. The votes haven’t always gone my way, but I consider my voice was heard and I did my duty as a citizen.
It is a sad fact that voter turnout in the United States is not very high. Many citizens do not choose to become familiar with the issues and show up at the polling places on Election Day. As a news reporter I have seen voter turnout in many elections to be well below ten percent of the registered voters. What is sad is that many of those who don’t show up on Election Day will be among the first to complain if and when they feel “the government” is not treating them well.
The Primary Elections for county, state and national elections take place on March 6, 2018. The general election will be Tuesday, November 6, 2018. Check for polling locations for all elections. And remember that we can vote for city officials and school board members in the elections scheduled by those entities..
If you are eligible to vote, are you registered? And, if you are registered, will you show up on Election Day or during early voting as announced for all elections? Hopefully I will see you there.
WARREN DOMKE is a columnist for the Pleasanton Express.