The theme of this issue of Gwinnett Magazine is education, so you are sure to find lots of good information here about all the award-winning schools and colleges in Gwinnett County.
Even though I love to brag about education in Gwinnett, I would like to use this space to talk instead about the importance of voters learning all they can about the candidates and issues on upcoming ballots during this election year.
Have you ever gone into the voting booth only to find candidates you have never heard of and offices you did not know existed? Even if you’re content to vote straight down party lines, there are still several offices – notably judicial ones – that are required by law to be non-partisan. I believe it’s very important that we understand who the candidates are and what issues are on the ballot – even if it means having to research our options.
This year, there’s a general primary and non-partisan election on July 31. All across Georgia, that ballot also includes a referendum for a regional one percent sales tax for transportation. After that, the next election – November 6 – will include many local, state and federal offices, including U.S. president.
There are many options for casting a ballot this election season, including absentee ballot by mail and advance voting, so there’s no excuse for not voting. And as an added convenience, voters can visit the Georgia Secretary of State’s My Voter Page at www.sos.georgia.gov/MVP/Login.aspx to find their poll location, as well as view their registration and absentee ballot request status, find early voting locations, and view sample ballots for upcoming elections.
If you are new to Gwinnett County or have moved to another home within the county, be sure to register to vote or change your address. And be sure to encourage anyone in your household who turns 18 to become a registered voter. You can find instructions and forms on the Gwinnett County Voter Registration and Elections website, www.gwinnettelections.com.
Good governance and the credibility and fairness of our judicial system depend on the collective wisdom of the voters. Those who vote carelessly – or not at all – are failing to take advantage of one of America’s greatest freedoms: the right to change leaders and representatives without violence or bloodshed. That is a right that many have died to preserve, and I believe we owe it to them and to each other to vote responsibly with full knowledge of choices we are making.
Education is truly a life-long process and graduation is just one step. I urge you to study the issues before every election and pay attention to the people and issues that will affect you, your family, and the community. Never stop learning.