All registered voters and those who need to register to vote, please do your civic duty and vote in this national election.

It’s imperative to understand that your right to vote in a democracy is one of the most important responsibilities that we as a free society must always do and be proud in doing.

Look what women citizens had to do over 100 years ago for this fundamental right. You may ask why they were denied their opportunity to voice their opinion on electing representatives of their choice.

These women made many sacrifices and some went to jail in peaceful protest. They were relentless and finally achieved their goal, the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Women’s Suffrage Rights, and we as a nation are stronger and better for it.

Let us also remember the 1965 Voting Rights Act that prohibits racial discrimination, led by Hosea Williams and John Lewis. Let’s not forget the sacrifices that many individuals had to endure that day in crossing the Edmond Pettis Bridge in Selma, Ala., for voting rights, also known as “Bloody Sunday.”

Many were beaten with clubs by law enforcement, injured badly, and many went to jail. We must always remember these past struggles for our sacred voting rights.

Voting rights must be allowed to every eligible citizen and not be hampered in any way. Please be an active participant in the voting process and encourage your fellow citizens to do their civic duty.

Understand fully who you are voting for and voting aye or nay on bond issues, changes to your state’s constitution or any other items to be voted on. Your vote must be counted; therefore, make sure your ballot is completed correctly and signed by you and only you.

Some of you may remember what happened in the state of Florida years ago in the national election of 2000, with the so-called “hanging chads.” Many people around the nation and around the world looked at that situation and perhaps thought, “What kind of voting system do you have that can’t be reliable?”

We as a nation must take voting seriously as a national trust and vote even during this COVID-19 pandemic, either by mail or in person.

Voters of the United States, make sure that our voting process in every state is the best it can be. Every vote must be counted and counted honestly and fairly.

Let us all do our duty and vote in this very important election. You should also remember to vote in all local elections, for that also is your civic duty.

One final thought on this important issue of voting: Try to keep your voting preferences private to yourself. Disagreements with relatives and friends might take place, and that can be and should be avoided.

Good luck in doing your civic duty, and be proud for taking voting seriously.

Thomas E. Carter

Rio Rancho