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  • Ken Perrotte

Vote! There is No Excuse for Failing to Exercise the Most Important Right - the Essence of Freedom

There was a time when the “outdoors vote” count was woefully low and many hunters and anglers only consumed issues on the periphery, if at all. Thankfully, that seems to be changing, with more outdoors enthusiasts becoming engaged in recent years.

I always poll friends and associates about whether they fulfilled their civic responsibility to vote in every election -- local to federal. Many do, even diehard deer hunters who would much prefer to be in the woods every day during the first week of early muzzleloader season. Still, far too many glance away, give a hang-dog look, and admit they didn’t get their vote counted.

There is NO EXCUSE excuse for this. With today’s electronic communications and easy access to candidate platforms and positions, there is no reason to be uninformed, let alone not to vote. Candidates often spam you incessantly if you've signed up for their reports and newsletters. It is also incredibly easy to email a candidate’s office or campaign staff and directly ask for a position on a specific issue or to register your opinion on a topic or to even ask for legislation to be developed. Elected officials are supposed to work for us. (I recall Joe Biden telling one Michigan autoworker that he doesn't work for him as the man was challenging his 2nd Amendment views - Biden artfully explained how he owns a shotgun, which eminently shows his support for 2A). Pay attention when your elected officials or candidates speak. If the response or position is reasoned and informed, well, there you go. If the campaign blows you off or gives a patently canned answer, that is telling, too.

Many candidates give lip service to outdoors issues, save the ones where big donor money pushes an agenda. These same candidates need to understand the outdoors constituency is one demanding to be heard. The way to do that is to show up at meetings and, especially, show up to every vote. The votes for city officials and county commissioners or supervisors can make a big difference in many local policies affecting hunters and anglers, especially land use, access, trespassing and more. Votes at state level are incredibly important. It only took one election cycle for Virginia's governor's administration and Democrat-controlled General Assembly to enact sweeping firearms-related legislation. Thankfully, a few conservative democrats in the Senate slowed up a couple of bills that would have banned many guns and accessories. And, of course, the federal level sets the overall picture, also impacting land use issues on millions of acres of public land, broad firearms policy and enforcement, national defense (really, many argue, the only area where the federal government does have a mandate to everyone), and appointments to the judiciary.

I recently saw a statistic noting only 61.4% of people in the voting age population of the United States said they voted. That is abysmal. It dishonors the sacrifice and commitment of all who came before us since 1776 to change our form of government from a monarchy to a constitutional republic.

We are entering the home stretch in what is sure shaping up to be an important election day Nov. 3. A presidential debate is scheduled for Sept. 29 and, in Virginia and elsewhere, important races are on the will determine the all-important control of the U.S. Senate. In Virginia, incumbent Democrat Mark Warner is being challenged by Iraq war veteran, amputee and university professor Daniel Gade. All congressional seats are in play.

Voter registration deadline in Virginia is Oct. 12. You can vote in person on election day or request an absentee or mail-in ballot that must be completed by Oct. 27. Even easier, especially if you want to avoid election day lines and have plans or requirements to be somewhere else, including trips to places such as deer camp, visit your county registrar’s office and request to vote early. I voted on Sept. 24. This is a sure way to ensure your vote is recorded and counted. Check your own states' requirements for early or absentee voting.

Encourage friends, relatives and associates to vote. Let’s have 100% of the community of sportsmen and women ensure we are counted.


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