As we watch the January 6 hearings it is evident that the democratic form of government that we take for granted has been threatened and still is under tremendous stress. Never before in the history of our country, from George Washington to Barack Obama, has a chief executive not executed a peaceful transfer of power. The events of Jan. 6 demonstrate just how tenuous is our hold on the foundation of our country. Intrinsic to that foundation is our ability as citizens to exercise our right to be heard through the voting booth.
We are currently in the midst of the primary election cycle, normally characterized by a much lower voter turnout than the general election in November. However, it is important to recognize that primaries are just as important as the general election. In our political party system, the primary election determines which of several candidates are considered the best to represent the party in November.
Circumstances this year make the primaries more important than usual because of the many candidates vying to fill so many vacant seats at the state and national level in Vermont. If we want to have the best choices available to us on the November ballot, then it is our responsibility to determine those choices between now and Aug. 9.
Vermont has made voting highly accessible to all qualified Vermont voters. Registered voters have been able to cast their primary ballots since June 25. Qualified but unregistered voters can register online or in person at their town clerk’s office.
Since Vermont has an open primary, no party declaration needed, voters receive a ballot for each of the major parties (Democrat, Republican, Progressive) but can only vote on one of the ballots. The two unused ballots must be returned with the voted ballot to avoid voiding the voted ballot. So, follow the directions carefully.
I urge everyone to vote between now and Aug. 9 and generate a record turnout in this year’s primary to keep our democracy healthy.
(Mike Yantachka is Charlotte-Hinesburg’s Democratic state representative and is running for re-election.)