Before you skip the March 1 primary ...

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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


Comments

Dottie Worthington on 02/15/2016

Well put Mark!  I encourage everyone to vote and take a friend with you. Register someone to vote! You all have friends and family members who are not registered or are not registered correctly.  We can make a huge impact by doing just that.

Candy Cargill on 02/15/2016

We sometimes take the liberty that living in the United States of America for granted. A simple thing like voting, many do not enjoy that freedom.
Take advantage of this wonderful right we have.
By the way…early voting starts tomorrow!  Vote and take someone with you, maybe another Texas REALTOR.

Dana Kervin on 02/08/2016

Has TAR prepared a resolution to take with us to our precinct conventions?

Dana Kervin on 02/08/2016

Mark, you are a wonderful story-teller!  Your recount of your experiences in Latvia and Russia is a vivid reminder of the political freedom we have in America.  Realtors are provided with so many opportunities and resources to be knowledgeable voters through their membership in their local, state, and national Realtor associations.  All Realtors have to do is tap into the resources, get involved, and refer to the recommended candidate lists provided to them during the election cycles, and take the list with them to the polls. 

I agree with Dan Hatfield’s comments, too.

Keep up your great work!  You’re the best!

Rodney Rowan on 02/05/2016

2 questions—Is this known as SUPER TUESDAY?  And, is this the election where you have to declare which party you are voting for??

Mary Starr on 02/04/2016

Thanks, Mark.  I have not witnessed these things, but I certainly agree that
all should participate.  Voting has been made so easy that no one should have
an excuse to not vote.  It is everyone’s duty to do so.

Judy Pierce on 02/04/2016

I don’t understand why our fellow American citizen’s, of any age, are not excited about registering to vote and have a say in who will be their voice in our government.  It is mind blowing how everyone has an opinion, usually negative, yet they won’t take the time to register nor take the time to go vote.  Thank you Mark for sharing your personal experience.  I have been voting since I was 18 and proud to have the right to do so.    And Dan, you are spot on!

Dan Hatfield on 02/04/2016

If there is only a 10% voter turn out and there are 100,000 Realtors in Texas, just think what a disproportionate affect Realtors can have on an election. Realtors are the only large, well organized group constantly watching out for the private property rights of Texas citizens.  Getting all Realtors to vote is not only the patriotic thing to do but it is a disproportionate vote to protect our private property rights.

Mary Ann Grayson on 02/03/2016

Ever since I voted at 18 I’ve known it’s a privilege and a blessing. Shame on those who have tarnished our democratic processes! Thank you for sharing your experiences with great inspiration.

John Harrell on 02/03/2016

This is a great piece. Can any of us imagine a day when our right to vote was taken away? I do not believe we can. Yet, the voting turnout that Mark references suggests that we have assumed the right to vote is a given, and electing responsible leaders is up to other, less-busy individuals.
I say, let us never take our vote for granted. Let’s vote our conscience , and let’s make a difference.
Thank you, Mark.

Dan Robertson on 02/03/2016

Thanks Mark.  A great story!

Ronda Needham on 02/02/2016

Thank you again for your leadership and for sharing your story! See you in Austin!

Sandy Bednar on 02/02/2016

Well done Mark…...

Tom Morgan on 02/02/2016

Thank you Mark Lehman and TAR for reminding me of the honor and privilege of the right to vote.  There is no higher responsibility in a democracy, I believe.


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