It’s been a long time coming, but finally, it’s in our hands.
After months of debating, speechifying and polling — not to mention the billions spent on campaign advertising — we, the voters, now decide who will be at the helm of our nation and our state, as well as our local cities, school boards and special districts.
Many of you have already cast your ballots. Good for you; your job is done. But if you are a member of the still ver y significant group of voters who prefer to wait until Election Day to go to polls, make sure you exercise your right to vote.
If you think your vote doesn’t matter, remember that many elections have been agonizingly close:
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• In a 1984 congressional race in Indiana, Democrat Frank McCloskey was declared the winner by just four votes.
• In the 2000 presidential election, George W. Bush won Florida by a mere 537 votes.
• In the 2004 governor’s race in Washington state, Republican Dino Rossi initially won over Democrat Attorney General Christine Gregoire by 261 votes. He kept a 42-vote margin after a machine recount of the 2.9 million votes cast. (For those keeping score, that’s a margin of 0.0015 percent.) A third recount, though, gave Gregoire the governorship by 129 votes.
• Closer to home, in the race for Paso Robles mayor in 2008, Duane Picanco defeated Gary Nemeth by just 41 votes. The mayoral race in Morro Bay also was a squeaker that year, with Janice Peters finishing only 47 votes ahead of George Leage.
So here’s a challenge: In the last presidential election, turnout in San Luis Obispo County was just a little over 83 percent. We can do better in 2012.
Remember, the polls are open until 8 p.m. and, thanks to the prevalence of voting by mail, lines are short or even nonexistent at many polling places.
It takes so little time, but as you draw up today’s “to-do” list, remember, nothing is more important than exercising your voting muscle.