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Our democracy needs you to vote on Nov. 8

By and   /   Friday, November 4th, 2016  /   Comments Off on Our democracy needs you to vote on Nov. 8

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Forget all the talk about rigged elections. Dismiss idle chatter that votes don’t matter. Do not be discouraged by all the negative ads.

America was founded on the principle that individual citizens should choose their leaders and the purpose of the Declaration of Independence was to state clearly that our nation should not be subject to a hereditary ruler imposed by foreign overlords.

After our initial experiment with a decentralized government failed, we tried again with the Constitution. Our right to participate in federal elections is enshrined in the Constitution and the terms for electing our president are set out in Article II.

Over the years, we’ve amended the Constitution to guarantee voting rights to minorities and to women and we’ve made the election of senators by popular, not legislative vote.

As you pore over this year’s complex ballot with seemingly endless initiatives, it is worth remembering that the Constitution is there for you to read – and it just might be worth taking a look in this turbulent election season.

Since our first presidential election in 1788, there have been plenty of controversies. The House of Representatives has decided the contest several times. In 2000, it was a bitterly divided Supreme Court that stopped the Florida recount and handed a contested election to George W. Bush.

In our view, none of these events has diminished the responsibility that each citizen has to exercise his or her choice by secret ballot. In fact, poor turnout in both federal and state elections only underscores the power that each of us holds to express our views on who should run our country or represent us in Congress.

The rights guaranteed to you in the Constitution can’t be accessed by sitting on the sidelines. In order to participate, you have to actually vote.

That’s why we applaud companies that give their employees time off to vote on Election Day. Patagonia even makes Tuesday a holiday, an aspirational benchmark that’s worth the consideration of more employers in the region.

Whatever your political persuasion or your point of view, please vote. It’s the only way that our democracy can truly function.

Continue Harrison’s legacy

It is not easy to get Ventura County’s eclectic collection of leaders to unite behind a single cause.

But if the cause is reading aloud to kids and if your name is Claudia Harrison, you can actually make that happen. Which is why on May 5 leaders from business, law enforcement, county government and nonprofits teamed up with the Ventura County Office of Education to read aloud to kindergarten students from the west side of Ventura to the LA County line.

It was an impressive outpouring of support for early childhood education — an effort to touch each child in the county that reflected the extraordinary vision of Harrison and First 5 Ventura County, the organization she founded and ran as executive director.

After a valiant battle with cancer, Harrison, 64, died at her home in Ojai on Oct. 29.  In her memory, First 5 is asking that everyone carry on her legacy and read to a child for just 5 minutes.

The family has asked that donations be made to Camp Kesem, a program that supports children through and beyond their parents’ cancer, at  www.gofundme.com/in-memory-of-claudia-harrison.

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