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Letter: Let's extend the right to vote

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We have a stake in our community when we have a real voice in decisions that affect our lives, whatever our religion, race, or gender. To solve the issues facing our communities, we need everyone’s input at the table. But some politicians try to maintain power by fear mongering and breeding cynicism to limit participation in elections rather than relying on the power of their ideas to win over voters.

I’ve spent years talking with voters at their doors and am disheartened by those who don’t vote because they feel discouraged by the tenor of our politics. But what tugs at me most are those who live and work in our communities but can’t vote because of long years on parole or probation. They’ve paid their dues but feel permanently cast out.

Our communities will be safer and healthier when everyone feels their voice matters. With our current abundant state finances, we have the resources to address the high cost of housing, child care, health care, and education. But we need the voices of those most impacted to create meaningful solutions.

We can strengthen our democracy right now by making sure all who can vote, do. Bills exist in our state Legislature to pre-register 16- and 17-year olds and to automatically register voters. We can restore the vote to the thousands of our neighbors who are disenfranchised by prior convictions.

This state legislative session, let’s make our democracy more responsive to the people and more robust ahead of the next elections.

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Aleta Borrud, Rochester

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