Written by Jeffery Patterson, Executive Director, Texas Catholic Conference
August 17, 2012
It is your turn.
Over the past year, the Church and our bishops have been tirelessly occupied in defending our rights to religious liberty and freedom of speech. Now is the chance for YOU to make good on what that fight has been about; it is time for you to step up and lend your voice to the public debate. What you do--or DO NOT do-- this November 6 can have important consequences for the future.
If you--or your friends and family--are not already registered to vote for the Election on November 6, please do so now. THE LAST DAY TO REGISTER TO VOTE IN OCTOBER 9, 2012.
Registering to vote is simple. The Texas Secretary of State's Office has provided an easy-to-access website that you can use to register online at http://www.votetexas.gov/.
You’ll be mailed a voter registration certificate or card with your name, address, and the number of the precinct in which you’ll vote. Check your local newspaper, or call the county voter registrar's office before the election for the address of the polling place for your precinct and, on election day, arrive there between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. to cast your ballot. Show your voter registration card or a valid I.D. to the election official, get your ballot, and vote. Depending on the voting options available to you, you’ll be able to vote by paper ballot or, for an electronic voting machine, a number or ballot activator card that enables you to vote on the machine.
The Secretary of State also has iPhone and Android apps which provide information on registration status, dates, statewide races, where to vote, and more. Register to vote, confirm that you are registered, and download the iPhone and Android apps online at the Secretary of State web site: http://votexas.org/.
I cringe every time I hear someone say that one person's vote does not count. Obviously they cannot do math. In the 2000 presidential race, the election was so close that it came down to the results of ONE state, Florida--and even then it was decided by the difference of 537 votes of the 6 million that had been cast nationwide. In most of the contested races for down-ballot races, the margins can be remarkably narrow, and are most often decided by as few as a quarter of all eligible voters.
We take such great pride in our nation serving as a beacon of democracy and freedom, and in the sacrifices the men and women of our armed forces make to defend and protect those principles at home and abroad. In is a great tragedy then, that the majority of Americans are ambivalent to this foundation of our democracy – the right to vote – and fail to make the short trip to exercise this right at their polling places.
Once you have registered, take the time to reflect upon the issues facing our country and pray for God's guidance when evaluating the policy positions, party platforms, and candidates’ promises. The Gospels and the moral and social teaching of the Church make a wonderful prism through which you may measure the options and opportunities for building a better world.
In the coming weeks we will be using the Lone Star Blog at www.TXcatholic.org as a means to address some of the essential issues of faithful citizenship formation and introspective questions that help Catholics in shaping their political and policy decisions in an increasingly complicated world. Informed Catholics are the best voters, as their political engagement is shaped by the moral convictions of well-formed consciences that focus on human dignity, the common good, and the protection of the weak and the vulnerable.
In the meantime, join the Texas Bishops' Texas Catholic Network at www.TXcatholic.org. As a member of the Texas Catholic Network, you will receive a monthly e-newsletter, the Texas Catholic Voice, to stay informed and active on public affairs relevant to our faith, receive News Updates on policy issues affecting the Church, and get Action Alerts to add your voice to communicate your ideas and concerns our political leaders.