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quill Letters to the Editor
"The pen is mightier than the sword." Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Consider these Letters to the Editor. I wrote the first one. The other three were responses to my letter.

Evaluate each letter.

What is the message? Is it well written?

Do you agree or disagree with each one?

Which one motivates you to act?

1. Register to vote

In the last two elections, we saw the power of the voter in Pennsylvania. Some corrupt legislators retired, rather than face the voters. Others lost re-election. For the first time, a Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice was removed from office by the voters. Long-standing school board directors and county commissioners lost primaries. But many corrupt, self-serving politicians remain in office.

In 2006, less than half of the 9 million eligible Pennsylvanians actually voted.

It has been said that the pen is mightier than the sword. Voting is the citizen's power of the pen. Voting is your power to force change. Voting is your power to hire honest legislators who serve you. Voting is your power to fire the ones who make decisions you do not support.

Voting is the only way we have to clean up local, state and federal governments.

Your choice is not limited to the names on the ballot. Write in the name of a person you want, when the names on the ballot are not acceptable to you. You do not have to vote a single party. You may select by the merit of each individual seeking office.

You must register by Oct. 9 to be able to vote in the November election. Go to the county courthouse for a form or go online to the Pennsylvania Department of State Web site to register online.

Use your power, vote!

Cynthia J. O'Hora


2. Don't just vote

In response to the letter "Register to Vote," kudos to Mrs. O'Hora. Voting is the heart that pumps freedom through the veins of democracy. Just as wholesome food provides nutrients to the blood, education provides knowledge needed to make our votes intelligent choices.

Voting should be the final step in our electoral process. Before voting we need to know who is running for office and how they stand on the issues.

How do I register, find out who is running for office, research the candidates, know what the issues are and make my concerns known, and where do I vote? Finding the answers to these questions was taught to me in school. Besides being enticed into wanting to know more by stories of presidents being elected without winning the popular vote, presidents and vice presidents being forced out of office for crimes, sacrifices made by individuals to protect our freedoms, elections won by one vote out of an electorate of thousands and one president we never got to vote on at all, somehow the teachers slipped in the political process.

Therefore I urge Mrs. O'Hora and the other members of the Selinsgrove school board to ensure our democracy for future generations by carefully examining the cuts in time allotted to the teaching of social studies in the district as they realign curriculum to meet the mandates of "No Child Left Behind," which for me translates into "No Time Left for Real Learning." Give our students the physical plant they need for learning, but not at the expense of cutting the program that provides an educated electorate.

Issues being addressed by the Selinsgrove school board can be found online at under the drop-down menu Administration/newsletters.

Remember: government by the people. They work for us.

Freedom cannot be protected abroard by deserting it at home.

name removed for this lesson


3. Vote for reason

With people hyping and encouraging the whole voting process, all they are doing is causing mayhem. What they are really doing is telling the young teens and adults to go vote for a name on a screen. Half of the young voters, ages 18-25, probably can't even tell you which candidate is for or against what. How many know that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama could not promise that by 2013, United States troops will not be present in Iraq? I'm 23 years old and I will not vote mostly because I do not know enough to understand the politics of this country. I've only known a Bush or Clinton to be president of the United States. How does that fit in for the young voters? They don't know change or success coming from the White House. Yet again, another Clinton is seeking office. There should be some type of test to take before voting, thus ensuring that voters know what and who they are voting for. Anyone can go to a voting booth and select a name on a screen, but to know what each candidate represents? I don't even know enough about the election and the candidates opinions, yet I feel compelled to vote as others urging to express my "right" to vote. So to those people encouraging everyone to vote -- I disagree. Vote only if you know what you are doing.

I bet some young females are voting for Hillary because she's a female. I have no problem letting a female be president, as long as she knows what she's doing. So instead of voting just to exercise your "right," vote for reason and resolution for this country.

name removed for this lesson


4. Voting matters

I was born in Snyder County 86 years ago. It's a rare day that I don't find myself thinking how fortunate we are to live in a rural area. I see how vulnerable we are to losing it all if wise choices aren't made. It's important for all of us, no matter where we live, to be informed about our communities, and work cooperatively to solve problems and avoid future ones.

I find there's a particular scenario front and center in many communities right now. Middlecreek Township, Snyder County, for one, finds it is at a crossroads. In what was perhaps the most hotly contested local primary, the outcome was decided by a single vote. The two sides remain divided. Both want to preserve the rural character of our township. Wanting and doing are two separate things. The question is: How does each one propose to make it happen?

One side understands that in today's day and age, it's absolutely critical to be well informed, up to date on issues, and understand our democratic process, how it works, how to work with it and get things done through cooperation. Engagement is essential.

The other side appears to think that disengagement is the way to go. Get rid of the rules, turn our backs, stick our heads in the sand, hoping that's good enough to keep change at bay. This is 2007, not 1950, and our world has changed, whether we like it or not.

One of the things I learned in all my years of living is: Exercising your rights and making them work on our part can't be ignored by hoping for the best.

The importance of casting a well-informed vote is the centerpiece of our democracy. Know the issues and become involved.

Please get out and do your part. The health of our community depends on it.

name removed for this lesson

quill and ink potTake action:

Respond to one of these letters to the editor. Or write your own Letter to the Editor regarding voting.
Most newspapers set a word limit on letters. Choose your words carefully.


Other letter activities:

Pensions for Lawmakers | Gas and Oil Royalties | Grants - Homeland Security | Term Limits | Sunshine in Government | Voting Campaign

There are those who doubt the power of the pen. It has been a powerful tool for change.

"He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression;
for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself." Thomas Paine

"To say that any people are not fit for freedom, is to make poverty their choice,
and to say they had rather be loaded with taxes than not." Thomas Paine

"There is more done with pens than swords." Harriet Beecher Stowe

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10/2007 Cynthia J. O'Hora In the spirit of Thomas Paine this lesson is released to public domain