Thank goodness the 2020 campaign season is almost over and the time to vote is only a week away.

 This year’s presidential contest has taken nasty to a new level.  Most of us just want it to stop.

The final presidential debate was held last week, and even though it was more civil than the first one, the candidates still managed to convince no one to change their vote.  At least, that is what political analysts are reporting.

Unless I am more senile than I realize, I am quite sure that was my assessment when I wrote several weeks ago about the debates being a useless tool.

Oh well.  When you are right, you are right.

Even though the final debate involved better behaved children, neither candidate consistently answered direct questions.  They either exaggerated their importance or just plain lied about certain issues and facts.

Their performance highlighted the biggest reason to cancel the debate.  They get to distort real facts and spout random falsehoods with no accountability for where the information came from other than off the top of their head.

For future debates, we need real time fact checking while they are debating and the ability to call them out on their responses.

 Since both campaigns must agree to the debate procedures, no political candidate for any office would be up for that.  Fact checking is done after the debates and that is sort of like adding sugar to a cake after it is baked.

With all that being said, the most important task for us now is to cast our votes.

The road to equality of voting rights has been a long, hard one in this country.

In 1776, only white men over 21 and owned land could vote. In 1870, the 15th Amendment erased racial barriers, but voter intimidation continued in the form of poll taxes and literacy tests.

The passing of the 19th Amendment in 1920 finally gave women the right to vote.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ensured all men and women age 21 and older, regardless of race, religion or education had a right to vote. Poll taxes were also eliminated and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 suspended the literacy test requirement.

The voting age was changed to 18 in 1971.

Voting is a right and a privilege and all Americans need to exercise their right to vote.

If people do not vote, it allows the few who did determine the outcome of relevant and important issues for the majority.

United States elections have never been a perfect process, but most Americans trust the process and believe the results, according to a recent nationwide poll.

There has been some concern about voter intimidation at the polls due to the toxic environment surrounding the presidential race.

Almost two-thirds of voters think there will be some form of voter intimidation to prevent people from voting.  That should be unacceptable to us.

Voters should be aware there are federal laws that prohibit such behavior which could result in prison time.  They should report any type of intimidation to their local election officials.

Most states are experiencing unprecedented numbers of mail-in ballots.

Despite the president spending considerable time and tweets criticizing the process with claims of wide-spread voter fraud, the Director of the FBI said they have seen no evidence of a “coordinated national voter fraud effort.”

Mail in ballots are printed on specific paper and must be formatted correctly in order to be processed and counted.  Ballots are specific to each precinct and would be identified as fraudulent if everything there did not match exactly.

Voting by mail is proven to be a secure method of voting and is especially essential for folks who are uncomfortable standing in the long lines while we are experiencing a deadly pandemic. Recent studies show they are a safe and secure way to vote, including one commissioned by Trump which reached the same conclusion.

Even though you are only one vote, if your vote joins others, it can affect the outcome when it comes to election results.

Susan B Anthony was an American reformer and anti-slavery activist known for her work for women’s rights.  She was arrested for casting her ballot before it was legal for women to vote.  She had this to say about voting, “someone struggled for your right to vote. Use it.”

Voting to choose our leaders is a freedom Americans have that some citizens in other countries are denied.  We should honor and respect that right.

November 3 is election day.

We have been subjected to the candidates’ non-stop bragging, insulting, fabricating and often obnoxious behavior.  It is time to let our voices be heard.

 Exercise your right to vote.  It matters.

Anita McGill is a former publisher of The Sentinel. She can be reached by email at anitamcgill99@gmail.com.

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