DEAR HARRIETTE: I have gotten into serious arguments with my neighbors and friends about the upcoming election. It has gotten so bad that I wonder if we can survive it. My thing is I am not trying to make you vote the way I plan to vote -- although, of course, I would like that. My thing is I want everybody to register to vote and then to make it their business to vote on Election Day. It seems like such a fundamental thing, and yet there are so many apathetic people out there. I just don't understand it. Here is the one thing that all of us can do to have a personal impact on the future of our country. Why would anyone want to throw that away? My friends say it doesn't matter and their vote isn't going to make a difference anyway. How can I get them to understand that that is not true? -- Right to Vote
DEAR RIGHT TO VOTE: Your friends may not like this, but I would start with a history lesson. The right to vote is a privilege that is not and was not originally guaranteed. It took women and blacks many years to be able to claim the right to vote. Even now, in some areas, minorities are challenged due to gerrymandering, lack of polling stations and staff. It literally took blood, sweat, tears and litigation to earn the right to vote.
Many elections have been decided on the smallest number of votes -- individual votes cast for a candidate. Assure them that their vote counts for president and all of the other offices on the ballot -- roles that directly affect their lives. Ask them if they want to have any meaningful control over the quality of their lives. If so, they should cast their ballot.