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'Tis the Season


Sheriff'Tis the Season

No, not that season! Now that we've celebrated the holidays; Santa has come to visit; the kids are back in school; and the new year is upon us, 'tis the season of voting. The 2022 political season is now in full force, the signs are out, and the debates are ongoing. The time is now for each of us to become educated to the candidates, who are running in your District, state, and federal races. And, most importantly, what do they stand for-in other words, who will best support you, your values, and what's important to you and your family. Only you can make those educated decisions for yourselves.

We are citizens of the greatest nation on earth, and with that status comes special rights and responsibilities. One of our most treasured rights, but at times one of the least exercised, is our right to vote. Lives have been lost to protect and preserve this right. It is how we affect change in our lives, in the lives of our families, and in our communities. Our Constitutions-state and national, afford us the power to make changes that we feel are necessary. To do so, however, each of us need to fulfill our responsibility to be informed, be prepared, and most importantly, we must vote.

During his presidency, Abraham Lincoln spoke to the importance of government being of the people, by the people, and for the people. The President argued that voters played the most key role in making sure the government reflected their desires and functioned according to the guidelines of the Constitution. Despite his plea, today, it can be argued that many people fail to conduct their role in shaping government. As a citizen of the U.S., people have four important responsibilities as eligible voters.

First, register to vote. A citizen's most important responsibility is to register to vote. If you are a legal U.S. citizen, at least 18 years of age, and have no felony convictions, you are eligible to vote in federal, state, and local elections. In the state of Texas, you can register online or in-person when you apply or renew your driver's license or change your address. It is simple, takes only a few minutes of your time, but has the potential to make a significant impact on your life and the lives of your families, friends, and your community.

Second, keep your information and registration updated. State and federal election laws can change at a moment's notice, so it is important for people to keep their voting information updated as needed. If you move or want to change your party affiliation, for example, you need to update this information well before the next election takes place. You should also stay up to date about the location of your polling place for both early and on-time voting, as they may change.

Third, and most important, prepare yourself to vote. You, as a voter, play a vital role in shaping the government and your future. Educate yourself on the issues; who are the candidates; and what are their positions on the issues. Decide who is the right candidate for YOU. Then, vote for the candidates that you feel best represents you and your values.

Fourth, vote. In the state of Texas, we are fortunate to have numerous opportunities to vote and ensure our vote is counted. If you are unable to vote on Election Day, you have the option to vote from an absentee ballot or during early voting. Never take for granted that the candidate ahead in the polls will win. Never take for granted that your neighbors or your friends will get the job done. It is your right and your responsibility to show up and cast your vote. By failing to use your privilege to vote, you allow other voters to make choices for you, to let their voices be heard over yours; and in the end, you live with the consequences of their choices.

The truth is that the outcome of the upcoming elections can impact your personal freedoms, taxes, and other important aspects of the life you take for granted. Because of the far-reaching impacts an election can have, if you do not cast your vote, you relinquish your right to complain if the outcome is not what you hoped for.

Bottom line, educate yourself on the issues and the positions of the candidate pool. Educate yourself enough to understand the implications of your decision. Then vote and have a voice in your future and in the future of your children and grandchildren.

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