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Published Oct. 28, 2008

Never before has there been more interest, enthusiasm for or emotional connection to national and community politics than this year.

Measuring this high level of interest by primary election turnouts, visits to political Web sites, viewing/listening to politically focused television or radio programs, contributions given to candidates or just the number of daily conversations about political matters, 2008 is setting the high-water mark.

Some may say attack politics is setting a concomitant low standard, but no one can deny that our attention is at a peak.

The election has already begun in many states and communities as early voting has commenced. I strongly encourage you to join me in voting early. If your mind is made up, why not? Voting has never been more convenient and accessible.

Waiting until the long lines form on Nov. 4 is neither smart nor sensible.

Thinking that one vote does not matter is a true dishonor to a tradition our nation holds dear. No matter who we are, voting is the great equalizer. Any citizen over age 18 who is legally registered is equal in the process of American elections.

Despite some concern about "unfair and unfavorable barriers," the overwhelming majority of voters are given free and open access to cast our ballots, and if problems arise, they should be promptly reported and fairly resolved.

I consider voting an act of true patriotism. By voting, we honor those who have given so much, even their lives, to assure us the right to express ourselves in determining who will lead us at every level of government.

Countless millions have fought, marched, protested and sacrificed so that we have inherited our right to vote. In recognition of that history, and in honor of those who have given us this right, each vote is a gesture of respect.

Jack Levine is the founder of the 4Generations Institute in Tallahassee.