The power of the ballot

Voting means different things to different people

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The word "idiot" came to the English language from the Greek. In ancient Athens, "idiotes" were citizens who didn't not vote or otherwise take part in public life.

There are several indications that there will be few idiots in Moffat County by 7 tonight.

According to Moffat County Deputy Clerk and Recorder Lila Herod, she gave out 3,366 by 5 p.m. Friday for early and absentee voters. Of that, 1,792 voted early.

Early and absentee voting -- the county's largest precinct -- has accounted for about one-third of total voters in past Moffat County elections.

Sticking to that formula, the county stands to chart record voter turnout, with 8,755 voters registered for this election.

The highest turnout Moffat County has charted in the past 14 years was 73 percent in the 1992. Only 10 percent of area voters marked a ballot in the 2000 primary election.

Moffat County voters make it to the polls for many reasons, and for the past 18 weeks many of those reasons have made headlines.

Allen Swenson will vote this year for the first time -- a decision bolstered by his yearlong tour of duty in Iraq.

"I think I pay more attention now to what's going on and vote for what I feel is right," he said.

"Every time I leave this country, I have a deeper respect for the freedoms we have."

Other residents have, in their own words, talked and written about the role voting plays in their lives.

Sherri Evans-Lawton lost her husband, Mark, in Iraq.

"As we look toward our nation's presidential elections this year, I pray every America will go out and vote," she wrote. "After all, my husband and many, many others served and are still serving to ensure our way of life."

People have their own reasons that drive them to the polls. Federal legislation enacted in 2002 ensures that every person who legally is able to vote, can.

It included provisions to make voting more accessible to those with disabilities and available to those whose paperwork may not be in order.

In Moffat County, precincts have been centralized -- nearly all Craig-area voters cast their ballots at the Centennial Mall -- to alleviate what had been a process that confused voters and led to a deluge of calls to the Clerk and Recorder's Office.

Several people will arrive at Centennial Mall with their children in tow -- setting the example that voting is important, something that studies have shown increases a child's interest in voting.

"My mom's a big political person. It kind of rubs off on me, I guess," Moffat County High School student Libby Stetson said.

She'll cast a ballot because of that influence.

Others too, are going public with their views on voting.

"To me, voting is one of the responsibilities that comes with adulthood," Craig Middle School teacher David Morris wrote.

"It bothers me that so many Americans carelessly throw away this opportunity to have a say in who or what laws govern the country."

This year, voters are expected to pour into the polls in record numbers to decide the winners of several hotly contested races -- and the presidential race is one.

Heated races tend to draw more people to the polls, and this year arguably could be one of the closest presidential races in history.

History books can teach about races in which one vote decided the outcome of an election.

It's up to registered voters to decide whether to pass on the chance to make a difference.

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