Voting not only a right; it’s your duty as a citizen

-A A +A

In a matter of weeks, voters have to make some important choices. Who will lead our nation? Who will represent us in Congress? Who will be our new state legislator?
Locally, voters will choose a sheriff, a County Council member and two City Council members.
We’d like to introduce you to the people who are vying for the local positions. And we’re going to do that through two candidate forums. The University of South Carolina Lancaster, Duke Energy, Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce and The Lancaster News are sponsoring Before You Vote  –  2012 Candidate forums that will be held at the Carole Ray Dowling Center.
The first forum is scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 16. The races slated for that night are for Lancaster County sheriff, Lancaster City Council and S.C. House District 44.
The second forum is set for 6 p.m. Oct. 23 and will feature the Lancaster County Council and U.S. House District 5 races. While the Lancaster County School Board candidates, who are uncontested, will answer questions about education during this forum.
We strongly encourage you to come out to the forums, meet the candidates, hear their views and make educated decisions about the best choice for each position.
Your vote counts
Make sure you vote – despite calls from some pulpits telling people to stay home on Election Day.  Voting is a right – a hard-fought-for right for many of us. Your vote reflects your choice for these positions.
If you are not registered to vote, you still have time. Saturday, Oct. 6 is the deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 6 general election. There are several ways to register, including at the voter registration office, the Department of Motor Vehicles and through various voter-registration drives.
But remember, you are not officially registered to vote until your information has been entered into the voter registration system and you have been assigned a voter-registration number.
Mary Ann Hudson, Lancaster County voter registration director, said this has been a problem in the past on Election Day.
“People have signed registration forms at other places thinking they were automatically registered and they weren’t,” Hudson said. “They were really upset because they couldn’t vote.”
Hudson said people can verify they are registered to vote by visiting https://info.scvotes.sc.gov/eng/voterinquiry/VoterInformationRequest.asp....
This is the scvotes.org website. The website contains a wealth of information, including absentee voting and election results. If you are not registered and have questions, call the local voter registration office at (803) 285-2969.
If you are a registered voter who has moved or had any other status changes, Hudson says to make those changes before the election. Doing so will avoid delays at the voting box.
The Lancaster County Voter Registration Office normally is not open on Saturdays. But the local office is open from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Oct. 6, to allow people a chance to register at the last minute.
If you have not registered, don’t let this opportunity pass. If you’re not sure you’re registered, take the responsibility to make sure you are.
Sunday alcohol sales,
Joint Gov., Lt. Gov. ticket
Local voters also will decide if alcohol can be sold in restaurants in Lancaster County on Sundays. Proponents are gearing up now for the final push to get voters out in support of the ballot measure. A “yes” vote to the measure counts as a vote in favor of allowing Sunday alcohol sales in county restaurants only. A “no” vote continues the ban.
There is one amendment on the ballot. To get beyond the amendment jargon, a “yes” vote means that starting in 2018, the governor and lieutenant governor will run on the same ticket. That “yes” vote also removes the lieutenant governor as the presiding officer of the Senate. The Senate will then elect its own president.
A “no” vote means the current method of electing the governor and lieutenant governor separately stays in effect. And the lieutenant governor will remain the Senate president.
Support your candidate
Once you’ve decided on the candidate of your choice, we encourage you to show your support through letters to the editor and guest columns. We’ll be glad to publish them. Just a few rules. Tell us why you support your candidate and what makes him or her the best choice for that position. No personal attacks on the opposing candidate. Save us both some time. You don’t have to write it and I don’t have to cut it out. Try to keep your letters etc. to about 500 words.
We offer the same option to the candidates. Let us know why you are the best candidate for the position. Outline your strong points. See above for negative comments about the opposition.
Send your letters and columns to The Lancaster News, Attn: Barbara Rutledge, P.O. Box 640, Lancaster, S.C. 29720; bring them by the office at 701 N. White St. or e-mail me at brutledge@thelancasternews.com. We’ll publish the letters throughout the month of October. The deadline to get election letters to us is 5 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 24. Wednesday, Oct. 31, is the last day we will publish election letters and columns.
No doubt about it, folks, this will be an interesting election. We encourage you to do your civic duty and get involved.
After all, you’ve got some important choices to make.