Back to the booth this Saturday

As far back as 1788, Americans have had a say in politics. The U.S. Constitution had just been ratified and George Washington was elected to serve the first of two terms as president. John Adams was seated as vice president.

The voting system of the day required that each elector cast two votes. The person with the majority of votes became president. The runner-up was named vice president.

In Washington’s case, all 69 electors voted in his favor. Their other votes, it seems, were divided among the remaining 11 candidates. Of those, Adams received the most and, thus, our first vice president was decided.

Although it has gone through modifications since 1788, our electoral system stands in presidential races.

But in the races on the local front, it’s just you in a booth, deciding for yourself who will best serve the interests of our community.

After a sparse turnout in August, Louisiana voters return to the polls to finish business in the primaries and decide several local seats, various city officials and school board members among them.

Deciding who will serve as an at-large school board member in a parish may not carry the same prestige as the office of president of the United States, but it does matter. Just as renewing millages for area fire departments or juvenile detention centers are worth serious consideration.

Government at the local level impacts each of our daily lives. The decisions we make today will help shape our schools and neighborhoods in the years to come. Scoffing at the notion of voting deprives you of the right to expect better. Using one’s voice in the voting booth is the greatest single right as a citizen each of us is granted. To waste the opportunity is a sad commentary on our contribution to society.

We’re reminded of the risk those first lawmakers took in affixing their name to the Constitution. And the risk men and women have taken through the ages to ensure those rights remain intact. All they ask in return is that we respect their commitment by honoring ours.

Saturday, carve out the time to brush up on the issues, learn about the candidates and vote.