Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Election Day: Turnout Likely Light (Again)

Today's ballot. (I almost always vote using the paper ballot. Call me old fashioned.)

Turn out for today's election in Kansas City, MO is looking light once again. It was thought that it would be about 20% at first, but some are thinking it will be the same as the primary--about 15% or about 50,000 votes cast. This particular election may feel anticlimactic to some, coming closely on the heels of a primary vote that ejected the incumbent mayor and a campaign that was, in general, pretty quiet. However the question of voter turnout in general does come up. Why is voter turnout so poor for elections at all levels in the United States? Even for our presidential election, that only comes around every four years, we only get about 50% of registered voters out to cast ballots.
When I came of age to vote (a million years ago...), I felt like I had entered into a great privilege. It wasn't quite as exciting as getting my driver's license, but it was close. There was just something special about getting a say, even just a small say, in who and how I would be governed. It seems now that this excitement does not occur for people any more. Why?
A couple of reasons come to mind easily--people have become cynical, believing that their vote won't matter, or that there is little difference between the candidates. The large amount of money that has become part of both campaigning and governing has alienated the majority of citizens from the election process. Some may have come to take our right to vote somewhat for granted, assuming that it will always be there as part of the landscape of civic life. The other wrinkle in this is that people has become progressively less informed over time. They are following Snooki and Dancing with the Stars, not the evening news. It's a paradox that in a time when we are frequently awash in information, sometimes to the point of tsunami, that many are very ill informed. Furthermore, people are not getting the education in history, civics and government as they did in the past.
All this adds up to a general lack of interest in the process of selecting the people who will govern the city-state-country, both in terms of voter participation and the type and character of those running for office. None of that is good for the country.
Polls in Kansas City are open until 7 p.m. If you are registered to vote, please take the time to do so.
According to The Kansas City Star, we should see first results around 7:30 p.m. and fairly conclusive results by 9:30-10:00 p.m.


Bob G. said...

I think it's a mix of fear, frustration, and apathy that causes poll numbers to be as sparse as they usually are (yes, even in Presidential election years).

Mix in voter fraud and intimidation of voters like what happened back in Philly...and though prosecuted against the New Black Panther Party menmbers, the case was TOSSED OUT by Eric Holder, our very own Attorney General of the USA, and that will turn off a LOT of people that would normally vote.

Votes can still be bought (as is evidenced in minority communities), but the carrot used is a lot different from the bad old days.
It's not bribe-money (outright), but rather some program designed to give something to someone for nothing (at a cost to the taxpayer).

But that's just what I've noticed...I could be wrong (but I don't think so)...

I think unless we make VOTING either a VIDEO GAME or a REALITY SHOW, numbers might remain lower than they should be.
Much of America suffers from ADHD, as well as the need to be "entertained"...and that's just not right.
Good post.

the observer said...

Bob G:
thanks, I figured you'd have something to add.

I think we take it for granted. If suddenly tomorrow, there was a revolt and a dictator rose up, the violent crushing of dissent would remind everyone of how special our vote was and is.

The Observer