TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — In this week’s Cate’s Corner, Keith Cate talks about the ‘virtual’ conventions taking place this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are his thoughts:

“I’ve always enjoyed watching courtroom dramas. My favorite part is when the attorneys finally get to their closing arguments with each side summing up their case with passion and conviction and members of the jury hanging on every word. 

This week, we’ve been in a jury box of sorts. We’ll be in it next week too as Democrats and Republicans deliver closing arguments at their ‘virtual’ conventions. 

It’s different this year. Gone is the energy we’ve seen in years past when delegates packed inside arenas wearing funny hats, trading party pins and buttons, and cheering on speakers with so much applause you never really knew when it would end. Much like athletes, politicians are now competing without fans in the stands. But the official business of candidates accepting their nominations and pounding home their message for why you should elect them goes on as normal.    

And there are signs that ‘we the jury‘ are paying attention. This past Tuesday more than 28 percent of Florida voters took part in the 2020 primary. We haven’t seen a primary turnout that high in 18 years.  More than half of you, about two and a half million, voted by mail.  That has many political experts predicting a record turnout in November.  We may be a politically polarized nation, but we are growing less complacent. And that’s a good thing.   

If you are not already, I encourage you to get engaged. Examine the evidence and facts presented. Don’t be bullied by biased jurors spewing misinformation. Sequester yourself if need be and begin your own deliberations. Remember that “voting” is 100 percent more effective than complaining on the internet. And when the time comes, either by mail or in-person, render your verdict, ‘your vote,’ with confidence, keeping in mind that when it comes to elections, Will Rogers may have said it best: ‘Times have proven only one thing and that is, you can’t ruin this country even with politics.’

The court of public opinion remains in session and those of us called to duty must not fail to appear. Make sure your vote counts.