Americans should value, take advantage of right, responsibility to vote

Omar Rachid

I am always shocked to hear about low voter turnout.

As an immigrant who came here on a green card, I could not wait to get my citizenship so that I could participate in our political process by casting my vote.

I put in my application for citizenship with an eagerness and with great excitement to earn the eligibility to vote and let my voice count.

I waited five years before I was finally summoned to take my citizenship tests. Indeed, I had to take two tests, one written and one oral. After completing the tests, I then waited another 5 months until the swear-in ceremony, at which time I received my Naturalization/Citizenship Certificate.

The very next day, with my certificate in hand, I proudly walked into the Dallas County Election Office and registered to vote. I am proud to say that I haven't missed a voting opportunity since, whether local, state or national.

We live in a country where we are given the precious right to vote, and therefore we must exercise such right. I wholeheartedly believe that we have an obligation and a responsibility to our society to do so. I feel so strongly about this obligation because I come from a place where that right was neither guaranteed nor was it safe.

I was born and raised in Lebanon, a country where the political arena was a dangerous one for all - the candidates and the voters. I recall being 15 years old during the civil war. I couldn't vote at the time, but I witnessed the hurling of bombs and the bullets of snipers that stood between the citizens and the polls. These risks did not stop my parents or any of my relatives, neighbors and family friends from casting their vote. Many risked and lost their lives doing so. Even the fear of being killed would not stop them from going to the polls and exercising their right to vote. For them, it was a right worth dying for. And by the way, the same is also true in many parts of the world.

But here we are; we live in a very safe country, state and community where we can exercise our right without bombs or any kind of harassment. Why is it that we seem to lack the enthusiasm to vote and let our voice be heard?

I have listened to many excuses for why people don't vote or even register to vote, but the top four excuses are:

1- I don't like any of the candidates

2- I don't really care who gets elected

3- My vote won't make a difference

4- If I register to vote, then I will be called for jury duty

My answers are the following:

1- Find the candidate that aligns the most with your beliefs and principles.

2- I think you do care and should care, because you want someone in office that represents your beliefs and principles.

3- Your vote does count, as every vote counts. The more votes casts, the louder the voice.

4- Serving on a jury is not only important but also a privilege and an awesome opportunity to be involved in the judicial process.

My fellow Americans, the last day to register to vote is Tuesday, Oct. 9. I ask you, for the love or our country, our state and community, to register to vote and then go out and vote in every election, as such an opportunity reminds us all to appreciate our Freedom and the precious right to vote.

Omar Rachid is a business consultant and a physician recruiter in Victoria. Email him at omar@rachidconsulting.com.