Just as fishermen prepare to cast, be as prepared to cast votes

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What comes to mind when you hear the term "casting"? Is it the vivid images of nets, lines and fisher-men that we see here in the Lowcountry?

For some, casting a net or line might be a way to while away a few relaxing hours. But for most, whether it be for sport or for dinner, casting means catching something.

The fisherman who knows what he or she wants to catch is prepared. The time and location are just right, the bait is suitable.

Perhaps if more people would prepare to vote as fishermen prepare to fish, they could more enthusiastically cast their votes. And if we voters encourage others to do the same, we might just find we have more confidence in the results.

On Nov. 6, you and I will exercise our right and privilege to cast our votes, and we have important choices to make. We will elect officials to positions of significant influence for federal, state and local offices.

In addition, we will weigh in on policy matters ranging from the method of selection of our State Superintendent of Education, to purchasing lands for conservation, to funding infrastructure initiatives from sales tax revenues. All of these questions matter.

These things are certain:

  • You must do some homework before you can truly get behind a candidate or decide "yes" or "no" on a referendum question. There's still time and resources to help.

Start with sites such as Vote411.org and scvotes.org for polling, ballot, candidate and referendum question information. Visit Beaufort County (bcgov.net) and Town of Hilton Head Island (hiltonheadislandsc.gov) for information on local initiatives. If there's an incumbent, research voting records to compare with campaign promises.

  • Your vote for local officials makes a significant local impact. The opportunity to interact one-on-one with your elected officials is abundant here. Living on a small island such as ours, your local elected officials are your neighbors, so talk to them about your specific concerns.

Many important decisions are being made locally. Your vote is just the beginning of your relationship with your representative. Whether or not your preferred candidate wins, the fact that you are a voter willing to weigh in on local matters is important as town decisions are debated.

  • Finally, and most importantly, your vote doesn't count unless you cast it. In 2016, about two-thirds of the more than three million registered voters in South Carolina voted.

That means that one-third let two-thirds decide for them.

Of course, 2016 was a presidential election year. Percentages are historically much lower for mid-term elections. In addition, an estimated half million people eligible to vote in South Carolina aren't even registered.

So, back to our fishing example, for Beaufort County and Hilton Head Island, a lot of folks might be carrying a pole or a net, but not really casting. How can they hope to catch anything?

As my days in office wind down, I might soon spend a little leisure time learning to fish with a cast net. To be sure, I'll be looking to catch something. I'll cast with all my energy, applying what I've learned from my research about this time-tested fishing method.

On Nov. 6, I'll cast my vote with similar enthusiasm. Please join me.

David Bennett is the mayor of the Town of Hilton Head Island. DavidB@hiltonheadislandsc.gov.

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