This is Brian Thornburg.

I don’t know about you, but I take voting pretty seriously. No matter who you end up voting for, I think we all should take the time and make the effort to put a ballot in the box a couple times a year. It’s one of the few ways we can influence how we want to live AND tell our representatives what we want to prioritize in our neighborhood, town, state and country. It’s an activity that’s gotten more and more important lately, and I’ll explain why in a little bit.

This week, we are in the midst of early voting leading up to an election day on Tuesday, May 6th. This election is a primary, which is the one where you have to say which ballot you want, Democratic or Republican, and vote for those candidates. If you are not registered to vote, it’s too late to register this time, but you can get registered for the general election this November. There’s all kinds of information about how to do that at the North Carolina State Board of Elections website, or you can give them a call.

So here’s why voting has gotten to be more and more important lately. There are some people who hold elected office OR who can influence those who hold office who are working hard to find ways to either keep you from voting, make you feel your vote doesn’t count, or just give up and not care about voting.

I’m sure by now you have heard of the Moral Monday demonstrations that have taken place in North Carolina. One of the big reasons for the formation of Moral Mondays was to voice opposition to our own state legislature’s actions toward making it harder for us to vote. The number of days for early voting was severely cut and a voter ID law was passed. It was claimed that these new laws were needed to address voter fraud, but there are no cases or statistics that warrant these voter suppression laws.

The State legislature and the Governor seem to be ignoring the questions and pleas from sensible folks about why this is being done. The only thing left to do at this point is to learn how to hang onto your precious vote and get it counted. Our former State Senator Ellie Kinnaird actually gave up her seat in the legislature to work on voter education and turnout because she really believes that this issue is more important for her to work on. There’s plenty of evidence for me to believe her and do what I can to encourage all of us to get to the polls.

And you really need to ask yourself, neighbors: if your vote is so important that folks are trying to figure out how to keep it from you, isn’t it important enough for you to keep and use? Your choice.