A matter of principle | CraigDailyPress.com

A matter of principle

Voting is about exercising American rights, locals say

Bridget Manley

Register to vote

• Voter registration forms are available at the Moffat County Clerk and Recorder’s office in the Moffat County Courthouse, 221 W. Victory Way or online at http://www.elections.col…

• Colorado Environmental Coalition and Friends of Northwest Colorado can provide free voter registration to businesses, schools and organizations that request it. For more information, call Sasha Nelson at 824-5241.

— Craig resident Bob Niewoehner believes his vote won’t change things in the long run.

But, he votes anyway.

“It’s my right as an American citizen,” he said. “I worked hard to get a vote.

“But, I’m also a realist. I realize it won’t make a bit of difference.”

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He paused, chuckling quietly.

“A little cynical, isn’t it?” he said.

The first election he voted in took place in 1964 when Barry Goldwater was running against Lyndon B. Johnson.

Niewoehner, then a U.S. Navy Corps member stationed in Vietnam, cast his vote with Goldwater, a senator from Arizona.

Niewoehner’s candidate lost.

Goldwater “said he was going to bring us home by Christmas, and Lyndon Johnson kept me there for Christmas,” Niewoehner said.

Still, that first loss didn’t stop Niewoehner. He continued to vote, never missing an election.

So, after Niewoehner recently moved to Moffat County, he did what he does whenever he moves to a new location: He registered to vote.

Niewoehner was first in line Thursday afternoon in Alice Pleasant Park at a voter registration table set up by Colorado Environmental Coalition, a nonprofit organization, and its volunteer branch, Friends of Northwest Colorado.

Niewoehner identified himself as the type who likes to speak his mind.

“But, then I’m also one of those people who try to be informed,” he said. “I don’t vote just because there’s an election.

“I want to know what I’m voting for and why.”

Niewoehner stands by the principle that those who don’t vote shouldn’t complain.

Sasha Nelson, CEC northwest organizer, believes the same.

“If you see problems in the government but if you don’t participate in that government, I guess you can’t really complain too much,” she said. “You need to get active and participate in government and help shape it.

“If things don’t go the way you want them to, at least then you can gripe and legitimately have a complaint about it.”

Nelson’s reason for helping voters register at Alice Pleasant Park Thursday afternoon was two-fold.

Many voters may conclude that this year’s election is especially important because it will result in leadership change, regardless of who is elected.

“We’re just really happy to be out here to get people involved and participating,” she said.

CEC and Friends of Northwest Colorado also can offer free voter registration to schools and business offices. Registration volunteers through the organizations have received training and are sanctioned by the Colorado secretary of state, Nelson said, adding that volunteers are nonpartisan and apolitical.

“Of course, in our private time, we might have our opinions,” Nelson said, “but not while we’re on duty.”

But Nelson has another reason for wanting to get voters registered before the general election Nov. 4.

Voting is “fundamentally what makes a person an American,” she said.

Like Niewoehner, she doesn’t see her vote changing her country in the long run.

That’s not the point.

“I’m one of millions,” she said. “Exactly how much of a difference I make is probably not all that important.

“The fact that I participate; that’s really what’s important.”

Register to vote

• Voter registration forms are available at the Moffat County Clerk and Recorder’s office in the Moffat County Courthouse, 221 W. Victory Way or online at http://www.elections.col…

• Colorado Environmental Coalition and Friends of Northwest Colorado can provide free voter registration to businesses, schools and organizations that request it. For more information, call Sasha Nelson at 824-5241.