Use It or Lose It

Even though this newspaper is almost as long-lived as Sen. Strom Thurmond, we were scooped by the bygone Boston Post on our own founder's voting policy. It happened on America's election day, Nov. 3, 1908, a few weeks before our first edition came off the presses.

"Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy has always believed that those who are entitled to vote should do so," the Post said, "and she has also believed that in such matters no one should seek to dictate the actions of others."

We couldn't put it better ourselves, boss. So let us, on election eve almost 90 years later, echo the call to voters as far as print and Internet will carry. And let us now praise voting women, who turned out more than men did in 1992, though women were not "entitled" until a dozen years after Mrs. Eddy spoke.

Get on the bandwagon, guys. You have nothing to lose but your bad citizenship. Subtract yourself from the predicted 90 million nonvoters Tuesday, almost half the electorate.

OK. Some good citizens argue that not to vote is in fact to vote - a principled stand against "all of the above."

That's not why we as a newspaper don't "vote" by endorsing candidates. It's that voting is a job for individuals.

And no more labels, please. In the voting booth we're not "soccer moms" or "downsized dads" or "taxpaying teens." We're simply Americans, using the taken-for-granted right that so many struggled to win for us. A right we lose only by not exercising it.

It's worth no more - or less - now that elections cost so much: an estimated $7 per presidential vote if some 55 percent vote as in 1992. In one Arizona district, if the total vote for representative is the same as two years ago, each vote will cost $20.

Whatever the price tag, your vote is priceless. A few voters can make the difference. In 1976 Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford wound up less than 2 million voters apart, a minute fraction of the almost 71 million who didn't vote.

Whatever the electoral difference, a difference is made in the heart of the voter. Each knows that he or she has risen to America's most basic equal opportunity.

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