Let’s not wait until Nov. 7 to plan for Nov. 8 (the last day to cast your ballot). Who knows, you may want to plan to take some folks with you to the polls. That takes planning. Remember you can always vote early.

John R. Hawkins III

Remember this: A provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, championed and pushed through Congress by President Lyndon Baines Johnson, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and others such as the then soon to be named Justice Thurgood Marshall fought hard for African-Americans and others discriminated against to have the right to vote.

We owe it to their toils and struggles to vote in every election. The direction of public education, health, justice, taxes and much more, depends on those whom we elect. From my foxhole, here are some things to keep in mind as the election approaches.

The totality of public policy and actions affecting us every day are determined or impacted, including the prioritization or their exclusion, by those we elect. In many jurisdictions, positions ranging from commissioners of public works, sheriffs, and local judges are elected.

Members of Congress and the Senate and the President of the United States (POTUS) as well as local and state leaders are decided by you exercising your right to vote or your decision not to vote. We are talking about those who make decisions concerning your public safety, health, education, welfare, justice, housing, zoning, infrastructure, finances, economics, religious practices and most other aspects of those freedoms, rights and privileges many of us hold as entitlements that come with being an American. The next POTUS will nominate at least one Supreme Court Justice.

The actions of our entire government depends on whom we elect – by either voting or not voting. You help vote for the person you do not want to be elected by not voting for the person you want to be elected. Like many, I say “If you don’t vote, then can’t complain.” I would add to that, “…because your inaction helped elect them.”

Voting is not something that just happens. You must take affirmative steps to do it and take even more actions to amplify the effect of your vote by helping those who share your views to vote. Many may share your beliefs but may not realize the importance of voting, or have easy access to a voting booth. To be meaningful, voting should not only be a noun, but an action verb.

Wherever you live, you must be registered before you can vote. Most reading this are registered; however, you may want to assist those not currently inclined to participate, so that they may exercise this right made possible by our civil rights mentors.

In D.C., voter registration ends this year on Oct. 17. Early voting begins fifteen days before Election Day and ends at 4:45pm the day before. No photo ID is required.

In Maryland, voter registration ends on Oct. 18. Early voting begins the second Saturday before Election Day and ends the Thursday before Election Day. No photo ID is required.

In Pennsylvania, voter registration ends on Oct. 11. It does not have early voting but has absentee voting for service members who are deployed.

In Virginia voter registration ends on Oct. 17. Early voting begins 45 days before Election Day and ends at 5 p.m. the Saturday before Election Day. Photo ID is required for all.

From my foxhole, we dare not fail to exercise our right to vote and help others to vote. Your mission is to vote and help others to vote. If you decline, don’t complain about the winners.

Maj Gen US Army (ret) John R. Hawkins III, JD, MPA is President and CEO of Hawkins Solutions Intl., a government relations and lobby company. His last military assignment as a “two star” was Dir., Human Resources Directorate for the Army world-wide and prior to that Deputy Chief Public Affairs for the Army, world-wide.


John R. Hawkins III

AFRO Staff Writer