Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I did Vote today

I just got back from voting. The whole process took about an hour. Here in my part of the world I don't think things have been any different from any where else on the planet. The politicians have made numerous promises, touted their expertise, slung a little mud, yelled and ranted to no end. There were many rallies and tons of fliers.

Puerto Rico has an incredible high percentage of people who vote. Statistics claim that from 95-98 percent of registered voters do vote. Politics is part of our culture. Everyone feels it is their right and their duty to vote. All island schools from kindergarten to high school hold mock elections to teach all students about the candidates and the voting process. The process is presented in ways that accommodate age. My 5 year old neighbor told me she voted for the candidate that offered her the new colorful playground. A 16 year old told me he voted based on what candidate offered more ideas for a better school system. All those votes are not counted but everyone learns about the system, their right to vote and their duty to the country. Obviously given the high percentage of voter turnout, indoctrinating children and young adults year after year to the importance of voting does have an effect. Everyone has the day off today. Everything is closed and alcohol cannot be served or bought until midnight. Selling booze on election day will get you a $5,000.00 fine. The only focus on the island today is voting.

I attended a rally for my town Mayor (who is running for re-election) on Sunday. It was a cultural community event. A celebration. There was food and music peppered with a healthy dose of politics. People of all ages discussing the pros and cons of issues. Heated discussions, laughter, and of course plenty of drinking, eating and dancing. To be Puerto Rican means you vote. Means you attend rallies, and talk politics every chance you get to make certain that everyone knows the issues and votes. We are as passionate about politics as we are about sex, family and culture. And that's pretty damn passionate.

I come from a family of political activists. People who are willing to die for their beliefs (some have) and for the protection of our rights here on the island. I come from a family that represents a vast array of political beliefs as well as political affiliations. I come from a family that believes you must stand up for what you believe and you must be counted, it is our right. I went and voted today to honor my family name and because it is my right. I am proud to be a part of the process that makes my country a free country.

I hope where ever you are, you too have the right to vote. I hope where ever you are, you exercise that right and not take it for granted.

And in case you are wondering as a resident of Puerto Rico I can not vote in presidential elections but if I could, I would have cast my vote for Barack Obama today.

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