Letters to the Editor - August 24, 2017
Exercise your right to vote!
Voting is the most powerful way to have citizens’ voices heard, and it is the core of our democracy. Voting is a chance to stand up for what matters most to citizens and have an impact on the issues that affect them, their communities and their futures. Informed voters are the key to our democracy. Nationwide, the League of Women Voters works year-round to register, inform and mobilize voters. Our work especially seeks to aid those from traditionally underrepresented or underserved communities, including first-time voters, non-college youth, new citizens, minorities, and low-income Americans. The League serves millions of voters through VOTE411.org, our one-stop election information hub.
The need to engage citizens in our democracy is great. Voter registration rates are very high in our area; yet only 67 percent of registered South Carolina voters cast ballots in last November’s election, and turnout in local elections is often in single digits. A recent Pew report is pertinent: The top reason reported by registered voters for not voting is lack of information about candidates and issues (http://bit.ly/2vplj5A).
Though 2017 is an “off election year” in South Carolina, important local elections are set for some Charleston area municipalities on November 7. And there’s a special election to fill the S.C. House District 113 seat (North Charleston and Dorchester County).
LWV of the Charleston Area is proud to provide reliable, nonpartisan, voter-friendly information through VOTE411.org to prepare Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester County voters to participate in 2017 elections and beyond. Through VOTE411.org we equip voters with essential information about the election process in South Carolina, including polling place hours and locations, ballot information, absentee voting rules, voter registration deadlines, ID requirements and more. This year, LWVCA is launching a new VOTE411 feature: an online voter guide to candidates. Candidates in the S.C. House District 113 race — three Democratic and two Republican — were invited to respond to questions of importance to district voters in advance of the September 5 primary. Candidates running in local elections on November 7 will also be invited to participate in the voter guide at vote411.org.
LWVCA will be hosting candidate forums in communities with elections on November 7. These forums are an opportunity for voters to meet candidates and get straightforward answers to their questions.
This is only a snapshot of strategies that LWVCA is undertaking to empower all eligible citizens to participate in our political system. Delivery of these resources to a broad audience relies on community collaboration. To learn more, please contact LWVCA at 843-766-5416 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
League of Women Voters of the Charleston Area
Coordinator, Citizen Education
In statues we trust
With all of the recent controversy surrounding statues, we should recognize that statues are merely speech in art form and statues of political figures represent political speech. The sentiments that inspired any given statue may ebb and flow with the prevailing political climate, but for better or worse, they are part of our history and heritage and must be preserved. All political speech is controversial, it’s what makes it political. There is no statue that some don’t find undesirable or even offensive. However, like all speech, the solution is not to ban statues but rather promote more statues that represent a diversity of political ideas. There are those on the right, for instance, that find statues of Woodrow Wilson or FDR repugnant but recognize the importance of tolerating their existence in a free and open society. Exposure to all leads to a better understanding of competing ideas that allow us the freedom to shape our own views and values. This freedom to speak and hear controversial speech, ironically, produces a more free and tranquil society.
Banning of statues (i.e., speech) is undesirable and a danger to the commonwealth because it invariably becomes the tool used to stifle speech critical of those with the power to deploy it. Censorship eventually becomes the weapon of choice to intimidate and silence the political enemies of those in power and is, as Wendell Phillips described it “the hallmark of an authoritarian regime.”
Beresford Creek Street
Where do you stand on the removal of Confederate statues? Some are calling for outright removal of all statues honoring those with ties to the Confederacy and slavery, while others believe they should stand as important reminders of our nation’s history. Recently, Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg announced the city is studying the possibility of adding new text to the monuments so they can tell a broader narrative about our city’s racially divided past. What are your thoughts? Letters to the editor can be submitted via email to email@example.com.