Why I vote

A.J. Conklin takes his ballot to vote at the Oakwood Presbyterian Church during April’s primary election. Tuesday is the last day to register to vote in next month’s election.
A.J. Conklin takes his ballot to vote at the Oakwood Presbyterian Church during April’s primary election. Tuesday is the last day to register to vote in next month’s election. nmark@centredaily.com

In 2012, presidential voting in Centre County finished in a virtual tie. This year’s Nov. 8 election figures to be no less competitive and important. Once again, it’s fair to say that every vote matters — at the national, state and local levels. In that spirit, the CDT invited members of its community editorial board and a group of community leaders to share their reasons for why they vote.

By R. Thomas Berner

Some people never vote because it only encourages politicians. I vote to discourage them. Unless the office is term limited or it’s a county-or-below office, I vote against the incumbent. Think of voting as an evaluation of the incumbent. I want to tell the incumbent not to become complacent. Until we get term limits for all offices, voting against incumbents is the best we can do.

R. Thomas Berner is a member of the CDT’s community editorial board.

By John Boogert

Why do I vote? I vote in honor of my parents, who taught me to thank God for our many freedoms. I vote in honor of my grandfather, and my wife’s grandfather — both of whom fought in World War II — and in honor of their families left behind. But mostly I vote in honor of my children and eventual grandchildren — and for all of yours — so they can live happy and free for years to come.

John Boogert is CDT executive editor.

By Maria Kenney Burchill

According to the Census Bureau only 41.9 percent of the citizenry votes in a congressional election. It takes a presidential election to bring out more than half of those eligible. The president, while an influential and important person, doesn’t impact our law in the same way our representatives do. School and community development. Social services funded by the federal and state governments. International relationships, economic, moral or ethical laws that impact us as a nation. I care about all of these issues. I want my voice and my community’s voice to be heard. This is why I vote.

Maria Kenney Burchill is a member of the CDT’s community editorial board.

By Steve Dershem

I vote because the most generous gifts ever bestowed to our country hang in the balance, freedom and self-determination. Our forefathers, through many generations, paid for our right to self-determination with their blood, sweat and vigilance. If we are to see this great experiment of democracy succeed with each new generation, we must continue to embrace those same responsibilities. The true glory and blessing of being an American is knowing that regardless of age, sex, race or creed, every single vote counts and makes a difference in determining the future course of our community, state and nation.

Steve Dershem is a Centre County commissioner.

By Brad Groznik

I used to think my vote didn’t count. With millions cast, how could one vote make a difference? Then I started working for the New York City government and saw upstarts out work established candidates and win with just a few vote margin. In Centre County, Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama were separated by less than 100 votes in 2012. This year, pollsters say our state could decide the presidential election. So it’s no exaggeration to say your vote on Nov. 8 could literally determine who sits in the Oval Office next year.

Brad Groznik is a member of the CDT’s community editorial board.

By Carol Herrmann

I vote because I believe in the republic of the United States of America. I vote because it is my civic duty to honor and protect the unalienable rights that define our nation, among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I vote because I accept my responsibility to participate in our country’s life by engaging all the tools we have been given to help America deliver its sacred promise to all. I vote because voting allows me to help choose elected officials who best represent me. I vote because I know every vote counts.

Carol Herrmann is a member of the CDT’s community editorial board.

By Mark Higgins

Millions of Americans have worked hard, some making the ultimate sacrifice, so that you can vote. Don’t give excuses, vote. Close elections cannot be predicted beforehand. I know someone who won an election with 75,000 votes cast by 35 votes. Many borough and township elections are won by less than a dozen votes. Between the League of Women Voters guide and the internet, it takes a few hours to catch up on the candidates in an election. Your responsibility as a citizen of this great country is to make a plan to vote.

Mark Higgins is a Centre County commissioner.

By Rebecca Inlow

I stepped in front of a ballot for the first time on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 1980, 11 days after turning 18. I felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders as I looked down at the choice of Reagan or Carter for president. Russia and Iran scared me then. The thought that ran through my mind was, “What if I pick the wrong person?” I’m a worrier. I can’t say that I have approached every subsequent ballot with that same weight on my shoulders, but I know our choices have consequences. And that is why I vote.

Rebecca Inlow is a member of the CDT’s community editorial board.

By Karen Mrsa

Remember the purple, ink-stained fingers displayed by the Iraqi people, after voting during their first free election? Those faces and that event in 2005, where people risked their lives to vote, really made an impact on me and made me question if I would ever do the same just to vote. Actually, I doubt that I could be that brave. Fortunately that decision will never have to be made and I live in a country where voting is a right. Hard to imagine less than 100 years ago that was not the case for women, where the fight for that right was taken on for women by Susan B. Anthony and others.

So, why do I vote? Because I can.

Karen Mrsa is the CDT human resources director and a member of the CDT’s community editorial board.

By Michael Pipe

On Election Day, you have the opportunity to affect the direction of your community, commonwealth or federal government. Your vote can change the course of history. Make your voting plan now. When will you vote? How will you get there? Will you go with a friend? Take the time to vote this November and every future election to have an impact on your community. Our country and communities work best when we have an active citizenry who participates in our democratic process. Make your voice heard. Vote.

Michael Pipe is a Centre County commissioner.

By Janet Santostefano

I vote because it amplifies my voice. It gives me the ability to select candidates that are going to improve our country, state and local communities, now and in the future. We all have things we want to see improved. I want to see a world where my 7-year-old daughter and her friends don’t have to experience active shooter drills in elementary school. I want to see job growth and economic development for our community and I want to see every child have the opportunity to explore their dreams, whatever those may be. Without the opportunity to vote, these wants are just wishes. Voting is the first step I can take to influence change and make these wants a reality. My vote counts and so does yours.

Janet Santostefano is the CDT publisher and a member of the CDT’s community editorial board.

By Kevin Shock

My right to vote is honestly something I have always taken for granted. Even as I have always seen it as one of my primary duties as an American citizen, I remain mindful of the many people who have been denied that right or have lacked easy access to the polls, both in our nation and around the world. It is my duty to those who continue to struggle for freedom to exercise my right to vote and participate in the democratic process for the sake of the common good.

Kevin Shock is pastor at St. Mark Lutheran Church in Pleasant Gap.

By Sharon Stringer

My commitment to vote is rooted in recognition of the generations of people who could not vote and a belief in the democratic process for those who will. When I walk into that ballot booth, I square my shoulders, straighten my 5-foot-9-inch frame and acknowledge my responsibility to supersede years of disenfranchisement.

I believe that every time I vote, I honor the years of struggle and acts of courage that preceded the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. A trip into the ballot box is my commitment to the future and my homage to the past.

Sharon Stringer is a member of the CDT’s community editorial board.

By Diann Turner

Fear is our greatest enemy. And that fear is what kept me from being a registered voter in the past. President Kennedy’s assassination devastated me with all the coverage on TV and in newspapers; fear of war. Next came Vietnam; fear for my brother’s life. Then I moved to a city where ongoing violence was ignored; fear for my life. I became an ostrich, shutting out all forms of media to eliminate my fear, which also closed all knowledge to the political aspect that controls our country. Therefore, when I came of age to vote, I felt uninformed so I chose not to vote. There’s nothing worse than an uninformed voter! Right? And then came 9/11. Today, in my 65th year, I have changed my views and registered to vote for the first time. I recently moved from the big, scary city to the so-called security of a small town. To understand government, you need to be informed. We need to open our eyes and ears and get involved. Our right to vote is our voice. Maybe if we all raise our voices at the polls, future generations won’t have to live with fears. That is why I will vote.

Diann Turner is from Osceola Mills.