Voting requires work

An act so valuable deserves effort -- especially from our leaders

By experience, demeanor and record, Scott Peebles may be the strongest Richmond County sheriff’s candidate, and may have the biggest and most conspicuous following.

But the deputy’s tepid voting record – casting ballots 56 percent of the time going back to 2002 – is outmatched only by his abysmal excuses for missing elections:

“In law enforcement, especially what I was doing, it’s hit or miss. I know there were times when I intended to vote, but I didn’t because of something that happened, or I wasn’t educated enough about the race.”

Really? Something gets in the way, or there’s no information on the candidates or issues, nearly half the time? Come on.

Here’s someone badly in need of a rewind.

Given another opportunity, we would hope Capt. Peebles would say something like, “I’ve got nowhere to hide, and no excuses. I simply should have done better. But I promise voters that I will. Voting is the most basic and important of civic duties, and too often I have failed to uphold my end of the bargain.”

That would have been more of a stand-up answer, the kind of take-the-bullet chutzpah we need from our sheriff, and the kind of no-nonsense, up-front accountability we’ve become accustomed to from longtime and retiring Sheriff Ronnie Strength.

Of course, Peebles’ voting record is simply sterling compared to several of his opponents’: Richard Roundtree voted 39 percent of the time, while Michael Godowns has voted twice since registering in 2006 – an anemic 13 percent clip.

Voters will decide for themselves whether this information on all the candidates, which appeared in the June 10 Chronicle and is still at www.augustachronicle.com, in any way disqualifies them.

We would only say that we expect better from those who seek our votes. Voting is not only the most important and basic function of citizenship in a free society, as we mentioned, but it’s also as easy as ordering a pizza – often faster, and always 100 percent less expensive. You show up, prove your identity and make a few marks on a touch-screen computer and go.

As far as not having information on an election: Rubbish. There’s never been more information out there – spoon-fed or not. It’s incumbent on us to inform ourselves.

In addition, voting is no longer confined to Election Day. Voting in the area’s July 21 election, for instance, begins at certain locations July 9. Absentee ballots are available by mail, fax or e-mail, and the application is even online.

What more do you want? A limo ride to the polls?

Fact is, we’ve probably made voting too easy. As columnist Star Parker noted on this page Tuesday:

“Recently, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., appeared on Chris Matthews’ Hardball show and, in discussion about voter ID laws, he said that voting should be as easy as ‘getting a glass of fresh water’.”

Notwithstanding the fact that someone has already worked to get you that fresh water, Lewis is wrong still.

“A free society will soon not be free,” writes Parker, “if the citizens in it see their freedom as something that should arrive effortlessly, free of personal responsibility, like the appearance of the morning sun.”

It’s well and good that we should be required to put out an ounce of effort to vote.

And that those who would lead us would do the same.

Many politicians seeking office this year have skipped voting, analysis shows
Database: Candidate Voting Records

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