Needed: Your Action Now
By Patrick Winn
Two major civic events are unfolding. 
 The census is fast concluding, and we need to remind and encourage all around us to register. It can be hard to participate in a 10 minute activity that has ramifications into the 2030’s when our culture says instant gratification is not soon enough. 
Please participate, please register, and please join the efforts to have a full census with all residents of our diocese and state participating. There is nothing to be feared and much to be gained by registering.
 Voting is the other. Columnists often sound off close to Election Day wanting to be that decisive last voice heard. In-depth analysis gives way to the real goal of making the persuasive closing argument. Think of the technique that some folks use at work, namely, to be the last one who talks to the boss in order to be heard. 
But expanded early voting means campaigns change the route from a marathon to a moving target sprint. Forget the fraud arguments. Although arguably more convenient, early voting can result in decisions that form even before the debates occur. 
But Election Day voting affords the least chance of experiencing that Homer Simpson slap-your-forehead “doh” moment as regret becomes reality, or a candidate dies, or conditions change that would cause a different ballot to be cast. 
If we consider how quickly COVID-19 upstaged national policy, defined new medical treatments and altered views of economics during pandemics, or acknowledge how Pearl Harbor and 9/11 changed history, we realize this is not an academic abstraction.
Voting becomes easier if we accept that no candidate will fulfill each individual’s preferences or priorities. (Please see The Observer’s Aug. 28 front page story and the bishop’s recent columns.) We can clearly identify our hopes and fears as we vote for a just society in which the poor and marginalized can prosper and participate fully without betraying matters of faith, justice, economics or political philosophy. 
We need not fear the “... tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free” described on the Statue of Liberty. Rather, we can learn to appreciate, value, and embrace those whose race, color, native culture or language we don’t yet understand. In doing so, we avoid the fear of “others” who are unlike “us.” 
So let us register for the census and prepare to vote. We need to drive the ranks of the voting population up and use principles of hope not fear as our voting guide. Party platforms are worthy of study to determine who deserve our votes and a good voting crib sheet is Catholic Charities’ Mission Statement.
Let’s elect to public office those who will:
 Serve God’s people with compassion, dignity and respect; 
 Assist people in achieving a degree of independence consonant with their human dignity; and
 Work in solidarity with the Church and other people of good will in advocating for justice.
That would be a great introduction or conclusion to any candidate’s stump speech or party’s platform.