- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 27, 2002

District of Columbia voters are facing one of the most unusual set of voting circumstances any major American city has ever faced in the upcoming Mayoral primary the two leading Democratic contenders are not on the ballot, and the Republican Party as of yet has no nominees. What this should remind each and every one of us as did the last presidential election is that every vote will count.
More than ever, everyeligible voter should remember how critically important the process, and their vote, is. Given that the incumbent and leading challenger are write-in candidates, then already, each voter who exercises the right to vote and "writes in" will be playing a major role.
Those who vote for one of the candidates already on the ballot will be performing no less important an exercise. This may well be one of the closest elections the District has ever seen.
Of course, in addition to the mayor's race, there are other very heated races to be decided as well, particularly for ward and at-large council seats.
We too often are complacent, or forgetfulof,the tremendous sacrifice it took to win the vote. From the Revolutionary War through the Civil Rights movement, people have sacrificed their homes, livelihoods, and their lives to expand the right to vote to all Americans, black and white, men and women. The fact that we can participate in elections today is one of our most important of civic privileges and duties. Given that the election is on Sept. 10, voting will serve indeed as a fitting tribute and memorial to our latest heroes, those who died in the tragic events of September 11.
What is critical now is that regardless of who one supports, the process itself is so very important and a right that is not to be taken for granted. The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics in many ways made that statement in its rulings on the mayor's petitions that the rules cannot be flouted and that integrity and the process are more important than any one candidacy. The major parties will be determining their candidates for mayor; the Republican Party will definitely be deciding its candidate by the write-in process, while the Democratic winner may or may not be a write-in candidate. The decision is that of the voters of this city, and hopefully record numbers of District residents will be participating. If so, then indeed both theelection process itself and the voters will be the victors in this year's local elections, regardless of the outcome.

Terry Lynch is executive director of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations in Washington.


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