It has started in small hamlets, midsize town and large cities. It has started with everyone from firefighters, to teachers, to veterans and even CEO’s taking part. It has started with the exercising of a right that attempts have been made to suppress, a right that billions have been spent to influence, a right that people have fought and died for. What has started? ….Voting has started!
Early voting has started in many of the 31 states where it is in place leading up to the November 6th General Election. Our government was designed for citizen participation so it is rather shocking to know that in 2008, when Barack Obama faced off against John McCain, turnout was 61.6% slightly up from the 60.1% turnout in 2004, according to data compiled by George Mason University’s United States Election Project.
If estimates for this November are correct, we are looking at a third consecutive national election where only 6 out every 10 Americans decided to vote. A recent article in Psychology Today summarizes findings from a US Census Bureau study of why people in 2008 did not vote.
“Topping the list of reasons for not voting is a lack of interest (13%) or a dislike of the candidates or issues (13%),” Psychology Today said. “More than a quarter of registered nonvoters in 2008 didn’t vote because they weren’t interested or didn’t like their choices.”
Many reported illness or disability (15%), especially among older registered nonvoters. Others were too busy, or had conflicting schedules (17%). That’s about a third of the registered nonvoters.
Of the remainder, many had some logistical problem with the process: 6% had problems with their voter registration, 3% did not have a convenient polling place and another 3% had some sort of transportation problem.
The Census Bureau study along with other polls and surveys suggest that most of the people who don’t vote are not engaged in their community, don’t find much difference in the candidates or the parties and don’t think their participation will make much difference.
The purpose of this blog is not to promote any candidate; rather, it is to promote voting –voting for the employed, voting for the unemployed, voting for everyone. If you feel disengaged, discouraged, or downright disheartened and are not planning to vote, let me suggest 3 reasons why you should reconsider going to the polls either now, during early voting, or on November 6th.
1. Voting is a way to speak your mind and let your voice be heard!
Your vote is your voice. When we vote, we are actually telling elected officials and lawmakers how we feel about education, public safety, social security, health care, and other important issues.
2. Your vote really does count!
Remember: there is power in numbers, and when we vote and get our family members to vote, we can truly make a difference. If you don’t vote for what you believe in, others will – and you may not like the outcome. Don’t believe it? Look at how important each vote was in these elections:
If only 4.500 voters in Illinois and 2,800 voters in Texas changed their minds, the sum of their votes would have shifted the presidency from John Kennedy to Richard Nixon.
The 2000 presidential election was one of the closest in American history. Al Gore won the popular vote by a margin of 543,895 votes, but George W. Bush became president because he won Florida and its 25 Electoral College votes by only 300 popular votes.
The 2004 presidential election was also close coming down to a shift of 3,000 votes in Ohio giving the election to George W. Bush over John Kerry.
3. Our children are depending on us to represent their voices too!
Because our children can’t vote, we have to do it for them. That’s how we make our concerns about schools, safety, housing, and other issues heard. When we vote, we are looking out for our kids, and their futures.
4. Voting changes communities!
Do you ever wonder why one neighborhood gets passed over for things it needs, while another seems to get it all? One big reason is voting. When we vote, we can get results that we can actually see.
5. Voting honors our history!
Throughout the history of our country voting has been a right that citizens had to fight to gain. When the constitution was written, only white men who owned property could vote. The work and courage of freedom fighters have extended voting rights specifically for women and African Americans. Many believe that the right to vote continues to be under assault with voter ID laws, the reduction of early voting hours, along the purging of voting lists.
Regardless of your view on these matter there is no mistake that the right to vote should not be taken for granted. I urge you to honor the bravery of those who fought for your right to vote, by exercising that right in this election.
The Bottom Line: It has started…now let’s finish it!
Often times, we voice our concerns to elected officials, but if we aren’t voting, our concerns may not matter at all to them. Voting can actually give you the credibility to make your concerns a top priority for legislators.
– So it has started, now it is time for you to finish it — vote in this election!!!! — I am Marben Bland, and I approve this blog.