We speak of Early Voting.
Thankfully, it finally gets under way Wednesday.
Admittedly, the talk will continue for the next three weeks leading up to the Nov. 6 General Election Day, but at least voters who have made up their minds can finally cast their preferences. It’s a sure bet three satellite voting stations in Bradley County will buzz on opening day like a cash register on Black Friday, and will continue to do so through Nov. 1.
Yet, other local voters will play it a little cooler and wait until the last minute of the last day to mark their ballots in hopes of catching the final tidbit of political skullduggery before the voting deadlines. It is certainly their right.
And of course, many voting diehards remain — in spite of growing trends toward Early Voting — who still prefer casting their ballots on General Election Day. It is their right as well.
Regardless of when they vote, how they do it, where or for whom, the importance of this election is its symbolism of all for which America stands.
Some call it an American right.
Some call it an American privilege.
Some call it an American mandate.
Some call it an American gift to all who call themselves American.
We believe it is a little of all. We believe this is why Americans should vote. We will not offer a suggestion as to how to cast one’s vote, when or where. But we will speak to why. At the risk of redundancy, we will repeat: Right, Privilege, Mandate and Gift.
Others will have their own reasons. All are to be respected.
Obviously, the national race getting the most attention is that for the U.S. commander-in-chief. President Barack Obama, the torchbearer for the Democrat Party, faces Republican challenger Mitt Romney. For those interested, other names on the presidential ballot are Virgil Goode, Jill Stein, Ross C. “Rocky” Anderson, Gary Johnson and Merlin Miller.
In the U.S. Senate, Republican incumbent Bob Corker faces off with eight challengers — Mark E. Clayton, D; Kermit Steck, Constitution; Martin Pleasant, Green; and independents include Shaun E. Crowell, David Gatchell, James Higdon, Michael Joseph Long and Troy Stephen Scoggin.
In the U.S. House of Representatives race for the 3rd Congressional District, GOP incumbent Chuck Fleischmann faces Democrat challenger Mary M. Headrick and an independent, Matthew Deniston.
In the U.S. of House of Representatives battle for the 4th Congressional District, one whose heat has risen over the past week, Republican incumbent Scott DesJarlais squares off against Democrat opponent Eric Stewart.
At the state level, Republican Todd Gardenhire faces Democrat Andrae McGary for the 10th Senatorial District seat in the Tennessee Senate. Republican Eric Watson of Cleveland, the incumbent, faces Democrat Jonathan Gladden of Meigs County for the 22nd Legislative District seat in the Tennessee House of Representatives. In the 24th Legislative District, Republican incumbent Kevin Brooks of Cleveland is unopposed.
In numbers, it is a small ballot. But in lawmaking significance, it is as big as any.
In Bradley County, Early Voting will run Oct. 17 (tomorrow) through Nov. 1. Voting satellites will be open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Satellites include the Bradley County Election Commission Office, the North Satellite at Bradley Square Mall (in the Convention Center between JCPenney and Kay Jewelers) and the South Satellite at the BI-LO Shopping Center at the corner of McGrady Drive and the APD-40 Bypass.
On General Election Day (Nov. 6), precincts will be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
This reminder to voters: New state law requires all voters to show a federal or state-issued photo ID.
Squabbling over opinions and policy is a natural part of the election process. But when it comes to the question of whether to vote ... period ... we see no reason for such debate.
As the slogan writers at Nike might suggest, “Just do it.”