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Vote - because others are dying to <br> Primary, election days offer us all a gift some Americans take for granted

Don't feel like voting this week? If you belong to a political party holding primary elections Tuesday, you may want to think twice about not taking part in the world's greatest democracy.

In Iraq this year, more than 6,000 candidates ran for national office in campaigns that cost some of them their lives. And on the new democracy's first national election day Jan. 30, common Iraqi citizens committed 8 million acts of courage by risking violence to vote.

Last year, people did the same in Afghanistan for that nation's first presidential election, which drew a 70 percent voter turnout. For the first time in two decades, that included women with the right to vote. Next year, Palestinians -- who had their first municipal elections in 30 years last Dec. 23 -- will have a chance to elect a legislature after multiparty campaigns.

Only most recently, in Cambodia, South Africa, Malawi, Guatemala, Argentina, East Timor, Haiti and Venezuela, people waited in long and exhausting lines just to have a say, however small, in who shapes their lives and how. In the United States, where great-grandmothers and middle-age African-Americans can remember when women and blacks could not vote, we take so much for granted on Primary Day and Election Day. Many of us think the inconvenience outweighs the privilege. The world knows better.

In 1974, 39 of the world's 192 countries were democracies. Last year, there were 120 democracies encompassing 62.5 percent of the world's population. That dramatic change in civilization is being championed by America. Isn't voter apathy here ironic?

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