Thursday, May 10, 2012

If you don't vote, you can't complain

Ever wonder why politics in this country is so screwed up? Here's one possible explanation: most people don't bother to vote in the elections that count. Once every four years, we show up for the general election and cast a ballot for President, and maybe once every two years we drop by the polls to vote for a Congressional candidate. The rest of the time we're conspicuous in our absence. We hear it over and over --  change begins at the local level; you can't vote just once every four years and expect it to make a difference -- but then when a school board election, a millage issue, or even a primary comes along, we stay home. 

Or at least most of us stay home. Who goes to the polls for the elections most of us ignore? The hard-core fanatics, the true believers, the fire-breathing ideologues who will seize upon any opportunity, big or small, to push their agendas. I started thinking about this issue after I heard a reminder on the radio about a special election in Hancock this week. It didn't affect me (Hancock is a small city about 45 miles from here), but I did find myself wondering just what the voter turnout would be. I served on the election board in Baraga County for awhile, and I can remember times when we poll workers would get to sit there for hours playing UNO or Yahtzee because so few voters were wandering in.

Then I heard the results from Indiana and North Carolina. In reporting the Indiana Republican primary results, the news media made it sound as though it was a hotly contested race for the Senate nomination in Indiana, and maybe in one sense it was -- but when you have news reports noting voter turnout in one county at 16% of eligible voters, you have to wonder just how much the voters actually understood about the consequences of staying home. One report quoted a poll worker who said it was over an hour after the polls opened before anyone showed up to vote. I can understand people thinking that the presidential nomination is no longer an issue, but that wasn't the only thing on the ballot.

As for North Carolina. . . the big issue there was amending the state constitution to prohibit gays getting married. The issue got a tremendous amount of press, some really big names campaigned for or against it, it was a Big Deal. So where were the voters? Not at the polls. This news report starts off by predicting record turnouts for the election. The truly sad part comes when you see just what a record turnout might be.
The divisive nature of Amendment One was obvious Tuesday at polling places across North Carolina, as elections officials said the turnout could be the biggest for a primary voting date in decades. 
A number of county, state and federal races are on the Democratic and Republican primary tickets, but it is Amendment One -- the issue that would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and not permit the legalization of gay marriages -- that is luring voters. Officials at three precincts visited by The Observer at midday said turnout has been steady since the polls opened at 6:30 a.m. They said the turnout was a bit heavier than they had expected. Mecklenburg County elections officials initially said they expected a 30 percent turnout, but that might prove to be low. 
Gary Bartlett, the state elections supervisor, told NewsChannel 36, the Observer's news partner, late Tuesday morning that the state-wide turnout could exceed 37 percent. That would make 2012's turnout the biggest for a primary in a quarter-century, Bartlett said. 
Thirty-seven percent! Well, if only a little of a third of the eligible voters show up to vote, what do you think the odds are that those voters are going to be the tinfoil hat types, the fanatics, the hardcore no-compromise-on-anything ideologues? 

8 comments:

  1. As I recall, everyone in Australia is required by law to vote, but things there are as bad as here, so everyone voting is going to make little difference or improve anything.

    It's just all a big cluster fuck and you know it.

    I've always voted, for the idiots of my choice.

    Rick has never voted and says he has no right to complain about things because he doesn't, but he does anyway.

    Everything will continue to go in the same direction, downhill, plan wisely.

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  2. The modern version of "If you don't vote, you can't complain" is ...

    "If you don't lobby you can't complain""

    Lemming voters follow whatever cash rich lobbyists advertise. Those elected are then predisposed to tag along with their lobbyist buds.

    Democracy requires more than voting.

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  3. You are so exactly right, Nan.
    37%? Like how dumb can people be? Do they not know or not care or what? Some poll showed that 60% of NC didn't realize it banned common law relationships as well.
    Democracy is not about making an X every 4 years and expecting someone to hand you Nirvana on a plate. It is about being involved from the get-go. Informed, active, involved at the party and street level. Or people deserve what they get which is ignorant laws, guns out of control, and a slow but sure return to the 18th century if not outright Feudalism.

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  4. You must do more than just vote. You must speak out! Email your senators, representatives, governors, mayors - all of them.
    Write letters to the editor - get
    involved.
    Sitting back and saying, "I don't think that is right" accomplishes nothing.


    Sarge

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  5. Blog Fodder is a dreamer.

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  6. Sarge - you left out one: show up at city council meetings, county commission meetings, school board meetings, meet and greet events held by congressmen, senators, etc., and if you're not happy about something, speak up. The people who take the time to bitch get listened to; the quiet ones get ignored.

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  7. I'm voting locally this saturday..bond for a new track, baseball field and tennis courts I think..voting for it.

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