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Government Affairs

While it's September when you are reading this column, I'm writing it in July during the Democratic convention in Boston — home to prominent citizens like Senator John Kerry and our former MCAA President, Bill McConnell. That's not to say that I'd put the senator and Bill in the same context. Both Bill and John have very nice hair, but I'd have to give the edge to Bill in dress and personality. Kerry is a little "stiff," if you know what I mean — something akin to a slab of concrete waiting to be cut. Senator Kerry also had the most liberal voting record of any senator — more so than even his senior Massachusetts colleague Ted Kennedy. Bill, by most accounts, is much more conservative and probably only votes on collective bargaining agreements, so we won't hold his Northeastern roots against him (unless he attends the Democratic Convention and doesn't tell us)! In fact, I guess we have to feel somewhat sorry for Bill (or anyone living in Boston, for that matter); after all, he does cheer for the hometown Red Sox, and my guess is they'll fare as well in the pennant race as the John-John team will in November.

Unless, of course, many of you decide NOT to vote, which is why I'm writing this article. I'm not going to tell you who to vote for, but to let you know about how you can vote the easy way — even before the election — either in-person or by mail. So pay attention... there will be a pop quiz at the end.

In 29 states, voters can now choose their own "Election Day," opting to vote as much as 50 days early by mail or in-person without having to provide an approved reason. "EZVote," a pioneer program launched recently by the Business Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC) — of which MCAA is a member — aims to educate millions of Americans about their options and provide a "one-stop shop" for voters in every state to exercise their early voting privileges.

Recent special House elections indicate that early voting, which includes absentee voting, is becoming more and more frequent and even more important to election outcomes. In South Dakota, for instance, more than 10% of voters used the new no-excuse absentee ballot method, while in Texas, over half of the votes in the 19th district special election were cast early.

Census Bureau figures show that only 12.2% of registered voters who didn't go to the polls in 2000 said they had no interest. That leaves 88.8% of registered non-voters — or 16 million people — who might overcome the "too inconvenient" or "I forgot" barriers if an early voting option is easily available. And I KNOW how busy all of you are trying to run a business.

So we at MCAA have decided to help make it easy for you to vote. We've added the EZVote feature to our web site, which explains early voting and allows you to find information about its availability in your state simply by entering your zip code. The EZVote site is accessible by clicking on the "button" and following the directions. It's as simple as 1, 2, 3.

If you're going to be gone or know your schedule will be hectic around Election Day, this tool will allow you to plan accordingly. If you want to add this "button" to your own company web site, we can probably arrange that, too. EZVote is targeted specifically to employees of thousands of businesses, including half of the Fortune 100, that now use a company web site to communicate with workers about the importance of voting, the candidates and issues that impact their jobs and industry.

I have no doubt most of us still believe in hope, opportunity and prosperity — hope for a safer world, an opportunity for Americans to work hard, and prosperity because we're allowed to keep more of the money we earn. So whether you go to the polls on November 2nd or days ahead the "EZ" way, I encourage you to vote. It's a right you should be honored to exercise!







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