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Professional headshot of Mark Lehman

02/02/2016 | Author: Mark Lehman

In Lehman's Terms

One of the most rewarding experiences of my life was traveling to former Soviet-bloc countries in the ‘90s working on behalf of the National Endowment for Democracy. My role was to help these newly democratic countries administer their first free elections after the fall of the Soviet Union. 

Much of my work was in the Baltic country of Latvia, where I witnessed thousands of Latvians returning to their home country after over 40 years of exile in Siberia. These people had been forced in 1940 to give up their homes and property and move thousands of miles away. The Soviets wanted to ensure their domination by destroying the Latvians’ national pride and democratic beliefs. 

But from what I saw during the bitterly cold Latvian winter in 1992, the Soviet tactics did not work.

The lines for that first free election in a generation seemed endless. The citizens anxiously queued up to prove their Latvian lineage and vote. As they waited, they told stories about the empowerment they once had in shaping the destiny of their homeland. Many of them sobbed with joy as they cast their ballots in free democratic elections.

Since my experiences in Russia and Latvia, I have never missed an opportunity to vote in any election held in my community. I feel this is my patriotic duty to millions of people around the world who still do not have a say in how they are governed.

Unfortunately, most Texans do not share this passion for voting.

In just two weeks, we will have the opportunity to vote for party nominees for president of the United States, some statewide offices, U.S Congress, and state senators and representatives. If history repeats itself, less than 10% of registered Texas voters will cast their ballots in these important primary elections. That’s not only disappointing but it gives those few primary voters a disproportionate influence over the election—92% of all state races are decided in the primaries.

There won’t be endless lines in hostile weather conditions—just easily accessible polling locations where voters will have 12 days to vote for their chosen candidates. The process is seamless, and the satisfaction is tremendous when you realize you are participating in a democratic system that is the envy of many nations—and something that our world’s most oppressed citizens can only dream of.

That’s why I ask you to vote in the primary of your choice. Early voting is February 16 -26, and Election Day is March 1. Go to votetexas.gov for more information about how, where, and when to vote.

I will see you at the polls.  

Mark Lehman is vice president of Governmental Affairs at the Texas Association of REALTORS®.

Categories: In Lehman's Terms
Tags: vote, primary, governmental affairs, political affairs, in lehman's terms

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