Thousands of military servicemen have fought and died to defend Americans’ right to vote, so it is fitting for voters to honor those individuals by going to the polls and dedicating that vote to them.
That was the message delivered by New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way as she rolled out the “Vote for Valor” program at the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs in Lawrence Township.
Dedicating their vote to a veteran or an active duty service member is a means of demonstrating the link between a civilian’s right to cast a ballot and those veterans and service members who have made it possible.
It recognizes the sacrifices the service members have made to ensure the right to vote, Way said. Veterans understand the sacrifices they have made for the right to cast a ballot, ever since the American Revolutionary War, she said.
Standing at a podium only a few hundred feet away from the New Jersey Army National Guard Armory on Eggerts Crossing Road, Way noted that the state militias banded together in the Revolutionary War to form an army.
Soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen are dedicated to the continuous tradition of the right to vote, which is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, Way said. Amending the Constitution is a laborious process, and it has been amended over the years to ensure blacks and women could vote, she added.
Complacency, however, looms as a large threat, Way said. That complacency is reflected in voter turnout, which ranges from 30 percent to 70 percent of registered voters, depending on which office is at the top of the ballot.
Wrapping up the presentation, Way encouraged voters to share their stories about the military service member or veteran to whom they are dedicating their vote on Twitter at #VoteforValorNJ or at www.nj.gov./state/sos-vote