The act of voting is a solemn one. And, in many ways, it is comparable to serving on a jury.
When our justice system calls for a trial by jury, the men and women who decide the verdict are chosen from among the peers of the accused.
That is what citizens of Bradley County will do as early voting begins April 16.
They will not be choosing only the best Democrat, the best Republican or the best Independent. They will be choosing from among their peers they feel to be the best able to fill leadership positions.
The candidates stand “accused” of one of two charges: They either have done a good job in the office they now hold or they have offered promising alternatives that should at least be tried.
All the evidence has been pretty much presented.
Those who currently hold office have records — how they voted, what they have accomplished, and a checklist as to whether they held up the commitments made to voters when first elected.
Those seeking office have presented their views, opinions and ideas as to why they are the best choices to serve in the offices to be filled.
The avalanche of bumper stickers, ads, speeches and signs has placed all their arguments on the public table.
In considering the races for state positions, these are peers. Some are even neighbors and better known personally. The decision here could have an impact not only statewide, but make a difference in Bradley County’s ability to get its fair share of state benefits.
For the local races, these are indeed peers. In many cases, they are neighbors and friends.
The decision of those chosen locally will not only affect those who voted, but the successful candidates as well.
These are people who pay the same taxes, drive the same roads and depend on the same local governmental services as everyone else.
But, as in a trial by jury, personal feelings must not get in the way of making the right choice.
Sometimes the closest friend may not be the best one for the job.
When a decision like that is made it is a difficult one, for friendship is a sacred trust.
But, that is the glory of our system. No one ever knows how a voter marks their ballot.
It is always important that voters search themselves and their conscience about who are the right people for these offices.
These are not times for the faint-hearted, the lazy, the uninformed, the placeholder, the puppet, the power seeker or the party boss.
This is the time voters must find from among themselves those who can bring to the offices honesty, honor, devotion, creativity, curiosity, courage and the ability to think outside the box.
The “jury” is now being called upon to make some serious and difficult decisions.
This is not the time to choose the right friend, the right neighbor or the right party.
It is the time to choose the right people.
Voters must exercise their right ... and vote.
But, the “jury” needs to be sure of its verdict. Because in this instance, the verdict not only affects the “accused.”
It affects the members of the jury.