Ongoing primaries and early political maneuvering are reminders it’s an election year.

The catechism of the Catholic Church says this on voting: “The love and service of one’s country follow from the duty of gratitude and belong to the order of charity. ... Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one's country…” (2239, 2240).

Yet researchers consistently find that more of us claim to have voted than actually did vote. Our vote, informed by our faith, is our duty, as the catechism says. Not just for presidential elections, but for every election.

Sadly, only about 59.3% of Americans eligible to vote actually voted in 2016. Catholic turnout isn’t delineated but it’s probably similar.

We trail most developed countries: Belgium saw an 87.2% turnout for its 2014 election; New Zealand 76.2% in 2017.

Maybe our lag arises from decades of discouraging the vote instead of encouraging it. Native Americans weren’t guaranteed the right to vote in some states until 1962, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 had to be enforced by federal examiners.

Many states still make it difficult for vulnerable citizens to vote.

America can do better. Internationally, most people vote on a weekend or holiday. Early voting, automatic voter registration, same-day registration and vote by mail also help citizens do their duty.

We in the Pacific Northwest can feel grateful that we can vote by mail this autumn. None of us will have to stand in line for eight hours, as some voters did in Georgia last month, and none of us will risk exposure to the coronavirus.

A duty of gratitude indeed.