Tuesday, July 29, 2014
I confess, I vote in every election and have a real problem understanding why so many citizens choose not to. Granted some elections are more exciting than others and various candidates more motivating, but regardless of whom, why, or when, I vote. And, unfortunately, I am in the minority.
According to information from the 2012 national election, voter turnout was 57.5 percent as compared to 62.3 percent in 2008. Apparently 93 million eligible American citizens chose not to vote in 2012. All states except two had lower voter turnout. In South Carolina, 66 percent of registered voters cast their ballots, but that was 10 points lower than in 2008. Some of the reasons citizens gave for not voting in the national election were: 18.9 percent were too busy, 12.75 percent did not like the candidates, 15.75 percent were not interested, and 3.9 percent just forgot. How in the world with all the hoopla leading up to the national election did anyone forget to vote?
Last month in South Caro-linaís Primary Election, voter turnout was a mere 15.97 percent. So basically out of 2,836,470 of South Carolinaís eligible voters, only 452,990 cast a ballot. On the other hand, with the pitiful voting numbers from the state, Williamsburg Countyís 29.20 percent turnout was not so bad.In fact Williamsburg County looked pretty good compared to York Countyís voting rate of 9.78 percent.
Recently I read selected writings about women and voting published in 1933 by Eleanor Roosevelt. The following are excerpts from the document: ďThere is one new activity which entered the life of women with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1918. With the right to vote a whole new field of responsibility and power came into the hands of women. However, a vote is never an intelligent vote when it is cast without knowledge. Just doing what someone tells you to do without any effort to find out the facts for yourself is being a poor citizen. When women first had the vote, many of them did not know how to get information on questions of government. Others had watched men vote and talk of nothing else, but had not learned what the parties stood for. You were either a democrat or a republican because your family belonged to one or the other party, or because it was easier to get advancement in business in your locality if you belonged to one or the other party. A few women formed the League of women voters which tried to control the prejudices of its members and have them look at both sides of issues and to furnish unbiased information to any woman asking questions about candidates. The vast majority of women however, remain as indifferent to the vote and how they use it as are the vast majority of men. Roosevelt went on the say; if our leaders have led us through fairly still waters we are as content to let some people do our thinking for us, and it takes stern times to shake us out of our apathy.Ē So according to Mrs. Roosevelt, nothing has really changed in over 80 years with the way people vote. Today, many people have no knowledge of issues or candidates and apathy reigns.
So, instead of just ranting about people not voting, let me motivate you to vote by sharing ten reasons to get involved in the electoral process.
10: Itís your money, but state and national elected officials will decide how much of it you will have to invest in public services.
9: Itís your childrenís education and do you really want to let just anyone make decisions that will affect public schools and the quality and cost of higher education?
8: Itís your job, and you should help decide who will influence the minimum wage debate, workplace safety, pension security, or pay fairness.
7: Itís your health care, need I say more?
6: They are your highways and everyone should be concerned who is making the decisions about what new highways are needed and how the state will pay for them.
5: Itís your social security, and you should have a voice in which elected officials will decide what payroll tax you will have to contribute.
4: You live in South Carolina and your state and national elected officials set standards, enforcement strategies and budgets. They plan and zone where roads and industries will be located and how public lands will be used.
3: Itís your neighborhood and the people you elect make daily decisions about crime prevention, laws and law enforcement, safe and affordable housing, traffic patterns, and even where to put schools, parks, and recreation sites.
2: They are your children and the officials we elect today will set policies that will affect your familyís future.
1: It is your country and the people we elect are responsible for keeping your family safe. And that is reason enough to vote and help get qualified people elected.
As a local citizen you still have two chances to vote this year: September 2, and November 4. Hopefully you will not be too busy, too apathetic, or just too lazy to cast your ballot. By the way, donít forget polls close at 7 p.m.