Editorial: Register to vote

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Every leap year brings presidential politics, but never this early.

Jealous of the media attention and political clout Iowa and New Hampshire have garnered thanks to their early role in the nominating process, a dozen or more states have moved up their primary dates, leading Iowa and New Hampshire to leap again to the front of the line.

This election year is remarkable because the contests are wide open on both the Democratic and Republican sides. For the first time since 1952, no sitting president or vice president is running. Going into the first contests, neither party has a prohibitive favorite. The latest polls in both Iowa and New Hampshire are showing statistical dead heats.

Not only does that mean anything can happen in Iowa and New Hampshire, it means the nominations may well still be up for grabs when the Massachusetts primary rolls around. Massachusetts moved up its primary as well, to Feb. 5. With 21 other states holding primaries or caucuses that day, the Bay State may not catch much national media attention. But there are well-financed candidates in both parties who will still be competing on Super Tuesday.

It's been a long time since Massachusetts voters really counted in presidential politics. The state has been so reliably Democratic for 50 years that its Electoral College votes are taken for granted. The relatively late date for presidential primaries has meant the nominations were pretty much clinched by the time Bay State voters weighed in.

So voters should be paying attention, whatever party they support - or, if they support no party at all. A month from now, you can have a say in who moves into the White House next January.

But you can't speak if you don't vote, and you can't vote if you don't register.

In 2004, just 15 percent of eligible Massachusetts voters cast ballots in the presidential primaries. The stakes are too high to have so few citizens participate in such an important decision. So register to vote - and make sure your friends and relatives register as well.