I enjoy the Supervisor of Elections office’s excitement on Election Night. It's an awe-inspiring night and a grand place for an American to be.
Then, everything embodying America's democracy rests not in City Hall, Tallahassee or Washington, D.C., but in a simple former bank office on Wilson Street.
That's where our votes are officially tabulated.
That's where our voice in our political system is registered.
Every citizen should spend an election night there to see and understand just how this remarkable thing called democracy works.
Through floor-to-ceiling glass walls, we can watch this precious, miraculous system at work, ultimately knowing the results before anyone else in the county.
I spent March 12 with candidates, concerned citizens, former and current officials, political party representatives, and Taylor Smith, an 8-year-old Antioch Elementary School student who eagerly tracked results on her "kids vote" tally sheet.
Taylor’s our future, and that she took such an interest in how our society governs itself is gratifying.
That day, Andrew Helt — who recently turned 18 — voted for the first time. I encountered him enthusiastically waving a sign alongside State Road 85 supporting his candidate.
They were among a minority; 11,328, or 90 percent, of our registered voters couldn't be bothered to give their say in local governance.
That's nine out of 10 of our friends and neighbors who just didn't give a hoot about their duty as a citizen.
About their obligation to the community.
About their responsibility to uphold freedom and a basic human right so precious that people in other countries spill their blood to earn it.
We have it, yet an abysmal 90 percent of us squandered it.
It's not like they didn't have a chance. They had nine whole days in which they could have voted — even more if they exercised the convenient absentee voting option. Heck, Supervisor of Elections Paul Lux will even mail them a ballot.
How much easier can it get?
But they still didn't bother.
But on the other hand, as a newspaper writer, it makes things easier for us.
Since 90 percent of voters relinquished their duty, as far as I'm concerned, those 11,328 apathetic people also gave up any right to whine and complain when they don't like the direction their local government takes.
Wish we had more shops and restaurants? Sorry, you gave up your right to beg for more.
Think S.R. 85 traffic needs addressing? Too bad. You gave up any right to complain.
Want a bypass around the city? Alas, you gave up your say. You made it clear you don't care about the state of your community, so don't come whining later.
The other 1,323 people who fulfilled their duty as citizens, you're the people we want to hear from. Tell us — and tell your elected officials — how our community can be improved. You earned that right Tuesday.
Since the other 90 percent gave up their right to moan, your voices will come through loud and clear.
Councilman Tom Gordon sometimes shares his mother's pearls of wisdom. When Tom turned 18, Mama Gordon told him, "If you don't vote, you can't fuss."
Mama always knows best.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.