VotingOur most sacred obligation

Published 1:00 am Sunday, November 4, 2012

The picture captured the hearts of Americans. Frank Tanabe, a 93-year-old U.S. Army veteran of World War II, was photographed in a hospital bed as death crept near. His daughter sat next to him, absentee ballot in hand, with an official overlooking the proceedings. The man, who died less than a week after an Associated Press photographer snapped the photo, wanted to vote for the final time of his life.

The poignant moment showed the degree of solemnity to which he held his civic duty, thrust upon the people each November, to elect the future leaders of this country. We all could take a lesson from him, making sure his voice was heard before it fell silent in death.

That moment also should be inspiration for those who do not vote, or are deciding to “sit this one out.” Tuesday is the one day that American’s voices can be heard in free and fair elections. We implore everyone who legally is allowed to cast a ballot to do so. The eyes of the world will be upon this nation Tuesday as those carrying the torch of freedom exercise their duty.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Some races in Mississippi are foregone conclusions and the national media have been quick to point that out. Mississippi will fall to GOP challenger Mitt Romney. The national media has declared it so, and we fear that will drive down voter participation if the conclusion is foregone.

But for those in Vicksburg and Warren County, many more races will appear on the ballots that will have concrete, day-to-day effects on the local population.

Voter rolls showed 32,238 registered to vote in Warren County, according to the Circuit Clerk’s Office. That’s 1,011 more voters than what poll books showed during the primaries, but down about 13 percent since the 2008 presidential election cycle when 36,957 were registered countywide.

By Monday, 28,593 voters across the state had cast absentee ballots at local circuit clerk’s offices, or 1.5 percent of Mississippi’s electorate, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. It’s behind the pace of four years ago, when 88,398 people voted absentee in the state.

Locally, incumbent Zelmarine Murphy is being challenged by former Vicksburg High football coach Alonzo Stevens in the District 2 race for the Vicksburg Warren School Board of Trustees post. Murphy, first elected in 1988, has run unopposed every term since.

Contested district-level races include those for three of five seats on the Warren County Election Commission and positions on the Mississippi Supreme Court and the state Court of Appeals.

On the commission, District 1 incumbent Petesy Smith faces Jan Whatley, a poll manager in the district. District 4 incumbent John Rundell faces Sara Carlson Dionne, a poll manager in the district. District 5 incumbent Lonnie Wooley faces Gordon Cordes, a retired engineer, and Robert Croisdale, a retired auto parts supply contractor.

District 2 Commissioner Retha Summers and District 3 Commissioner Elva Smith-Tolliver are unopposed.

For the state Supreme Court, Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. faces state Rep. Earle Banks, D-Jackson for the high court’s District 1, Place 1 slot. The district covers 22 counties in the central part of the state.

In the appeals court race, Judge Ermea J. Russell faces Vicksburg attorney Ceola James. The judgeship covers District 2, Place 2, and is spread over all or part of 24 counties on the state’s western half.

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, a Republican, is being challenged by Democrat Albert Gore Jr., no relation to the ex-vice president; Thomas Cramer of the Constitution Party; and Shawn O’Hara of the Reform Party. Wicker won the seat in a 2008 special election after former Sen. Trent Lott retired.

U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, first elected in 1993, faces Republican Bill Marcy, Cobby Mondale Williams, an independent, and Lejena Williams of the Reform Party.

In urging all registered voters to cast ballots, we equally urge that those ballots are cast after much thought, careful consideration of the issues and based on a well-thought-out knowledge of the issues.

We all live in a special place, unlike so many around the world. The solemn obligation as a citizen of this country could be seen in that photograph from Hawaii. Facing death, the war hero made sure to have his voice heard one more time.

On Tuesday, have yours heard.