Ive heard a lot about the elections in the media lately. Members of both parties have been trading sound bites and complaining about ugly campaigns and maligned candidates, but few have focused on what I think is the critical issue: getting out the vote.
At a time when it seems that everything is at stake – the economy, the environment, the direction of our nation – I worry that people have given up hope and wont make it to the polls.
I may be old fashioned, but I still think our votes count. And I think its more important than ever before that we understand the responsibility, not just the privilege, that we as voters must uphold. This is not the time to act as victims, martyrs, poor losers or rebels. This is the time to get serious about doing all that we can to elect the people we want to see in office. They may not win even if we do vote, but we will all surely lose if we dont vote at all.
I think there are plenty of good reasons to stay at home in protest. Whos listening to us anyway? Why should we bother anymore when we feel utterly disenfranchised? It seems like the voter ID law was meant to keep some people away from the polls although Supreme Court justices assure us in their decision about Indianas voter ID law that, although it is burdensome, it is not unduly burdensome among groups some say were targeted by that law.
Early voting has apparently increased voter participation and helped counter any drop in voting that may be attributed to the imposition of the voter ID law. Im not sure I buy that, but thats what the numbers are telling us thus far. Its hard to prove a negative – and theres always been a big negative when it comes to voting. In 2010, thedailybeast.com reviewed the election data from 1978 to 2008 and found that Indiana ranked 38th in the nation with an average voter participation rate of 53.3 percent. Minnesota beat all other states with an average participation rate of 69.8 percent, while Nevada was the worst with only a 49.3 percent participation rate.
In states across the nation, about as many of us stay at home as vote. And that was the case even before voter ID laws came into play. Plenty of us have been registered to vote, had all of the proper ID to do so and still stayed away from the polls. I dont know why people choose to stay out of the process but at this point – when the nation needs to understand who thinks what about the leaders and direction of our country – any excuse is a poor one.
Its important to talk about this now because the voter registration deadline is Oct. 9. Thats also the first day, according to Indianas Election Division website, a voter may vote an absentee-in-person ballot at the county clerks office for the 2012 general election.
Election Day isnt until Nov. 6, but much work needs to be done now so that were prepared for the final decisions we make later.
I advocate doing your best to make an informed vote and think that checking this paper for election coverage is wise. I also belong to the League of Women Voters and find their website, www.lwvfw.org/, a great place for information although that may not be the right place for you.
Im not sure well ever agree on the right information or the same candidates, but I hope we agree that voting is one of the most responsible things we do. Lets make a pledge now to do our part later – and vote.