- The Washington Times - Monday, October 31, 2005

Some Virginia anti-tax activists and others are so frustrated with Republican gubernatorial candidate Jerry W. Kilgore that they are vowing not to vote next week, The Washington Times reported yesterday.

Too bad. Not voting is never the right option.

I have some issues with Mr. Kilgore, too, but they have a lot less to do with his curious policies and more to do with his negative campaign advertisements that have angered some Virginia voters so much that they have tuned out and been turned off to next Tuesday’s election.

Too bad. Not voting is never the right option.

The best way for the frustrated electorate to voice its displeasure is to vote and to persuade everyone else to vote, especially when so much is at stake and the race is so close.

Democratic candidate Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine is not without his detractors either, and I’ve heard a couple of party diehards muse that they would vote for independent candidate H. Russell Potts Jr., primarily because of his harsh but honest transportation plan, if the polls didn’t indicate that the race is a statistical dead heat.

Well, at least that option beats a blank.

Granted, the choices for the next governor of Virginia are third-string quarterbacks in the history of a state that has produced numerous presidents of star quality. And Mr. Kilgore and Mr. Kaine are as different as Northern Virginia commuters are from southern Virginia farmers and as both are from Tidewater’s military families.

The only rule the Republican and Democratic gubernatorial candidates agree upon is to confuse the voters with their attack-and-defend campaign antics and evasive rhetoric. Pity the voters who desperately seek pragmatic solutions, as opposed to ideological ones from politicians with tunnel vision.

Still, Virginia voters cannot afford to sit on the sidelines of this watershed election for the state’s political soul. People will be watching Richmond next week to gauge which way the political winds are blowing for the entire nation.

That’s why Virginia voters should be making plans today for getting to the polls or casting absentee ballots.

Take heed: Thursday is the last day to request the application by mail for casting an absentee ballot, and 5 p.m. Saturday is the last moment to cast an absentee ballot in person, said Mary Jane Nugent, assistant registrar in Alexandria.

She also said registered votes can go online to request the application to vote in absentia, or they can request a faxed copy of the form.

You can request an absentee ballot if you are going to be out of the state next Tuesday, are disabled, have an illness, are confined, work as a caretaker, are a student or a spouse of a student, are in the military or are temporarily residing overseas. Also, if you are an election official, have a religious obligation, or are working and commuting to and from home for 11 or more hours between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m., you can vote early and avoid delays or hassles.

Leave nothing to predictable gridlock or unpredictable weather. Anything that could go wrong often will go wrong, especially if you wait until the last minute.

This Election Day warning is offered in the spirit of utmost humility, for I have a terrible confession: I forgot to vote in the primary election for statewide offices in the spring.

Just imagine my horror, as much as I’m prone to preach about our primary civic duty and responsibility as Americans to vote.

Yes, it was a state party primary. Yes, I had been rushing to catch a plane out of the country. But neither provides me with a good enough excuse.

By the time I realized my frazzled forgetfulness while rechecking my to-do list in a foreign land, I had no recourse, and I regretted my failure to plan better.

I won’t make that mistake this election. I downloaded my absentee application yesterday.

Don’t you get caught short either.

The closer to home the election, the more important your vote is to have an effect on the candidates and the issues, such as transportation, education and property taxes, that touch you every day. Don’t be distracted or disillusioned and lose sight of the laws and policies that affect the many by the politically polarizing, ideological fights that affect far fewer.

No matter how angry you are at a candidate, even from your party, not voting is never the right option.

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