Voting is a privilege we often ignore

Each election day, the Tribune along with hundreds of newspapers across the nation report the voter turnout numbers.
May 16, 2014

For most elections, those numbers are abysmal. For the May 6 election, when we had two school districts with significant bond issues on the ballot, the result was no different.

Despite the push to get people out to vote, 8,478 votes were cast for or against these two school districts’ proposals. That is only 20 percent of registered voters.

Yup, 20 percent. That means that only one in five registered voters decided to take 10-15 minutes out of their day to support the democratic process.

What’s more is that is actually considered to be a “good” turnout — with most school elections only drawing about 8-10 percent of voters. Last year’s May school election, for instance, spurred 9.8 percent of voters into action.

Given the fact that men and women of all colors and creeds have fought for or died for our rights as Americans to vote, you would think that more of us would care to exercise this privilege.

What is even more frightening is that 80 percent of us apparently trust the other 20 percent enough to make our decisions for us. Yikes!

Voter apathy is something often discussed by political pundits, but if one wants to get a real glimpse at how precious the right to vote is, they need not look farther than Afghanistan. In its recent elections, Afghanis risked their lives to cast a vote. Trying to derail any sort of democratic process, Taliban forces threatened to kill those who voted.

Although they knew the risks, Afghanis felt it their duty to vote. They risked their lives for this sense of duty, reveling in the privilege of being able to have some control of their destinies — as people and as a country. Their stories are truly incredible.

The only risk most Americans faced this spring when going to the polls were potholes in the streets or an allergy attack from pollinating trees.

So, what’s your excuse?

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.

Comments

skyking007

Voting is a very important Right we have in America. Most people take it for granted and the people who should never miss a vote don't vote at all. Those that want to control society always vote but those that just want to live their lives in peace don't. Many have given up because of the Gerry maundering and the propaganda. They believe their vote won't count and sometimes they are right. Every vote does count and even if your side doesn't win, your vote shows how you feel and at least you voiced your opinion. If you want a country where everyone has the same rights VOTE for that. If you want a country where a select few control the rest, VOTE for that. If you don't VOTE you let others decide what kind of country we live in. VOTE, VOTE VOTE.

spanone

yes voting is a right but the people have found that vote really doesn't count any more it's up to the bigger majority ruling. So why vote. Nobody listens to the little people.

skyking007

Sad but true... If everyone voted the little people could win, because we are the majority.

nextdoor

We don't need uninformed or people who don't care voting.we have a choice weather to vote or not. If you want everyone to vote offer them some goodies that seems to work.

Alan9074

Present me someone worth voting for and I'll participate in the electoral process once again. If all I have to choose from is a corporatist like Obama or a neocon like Romney, it might as well be Moe, Larry, and Curly, or, better yet, my six-year old nephew. At least he would play with his toys on the floor of the White House instead wrecking the economy and eliminating the few barriers left that protect the few good-paying jobs in America and trying to stick America’s nose into every petty conflict or dispute around the world.

I had voted 3rd-party for 20 years to help get rid of this false left\right paradigm known as modern American politics, but, people (I strongly suspect) like this letter writer keep pushing people like slick willy or G.W. or John Insane McCain or Mittens Romney into office. It is not I who has failed in this process; it is people like this column writer who keep re-electing chickenhawks, neocons, corporatists, globalists, amnesty-granting career politicians who see no reason to change how they lead. There needs to be an individual revolution of self-realization that we're not working with a fair or honest political system, but one based on bribes, contacts, and kick-backs. I've done what I can to convince others that re-electing the same types of people isn't going to benefit anyone except the rich, but no one hears, hence, I gave up. Point your finger at me in an indictment of guilt if you wish, but it is people like the writers of the Grand Haven Tribune who are the problem, not me.

GH55

If we were really serious about getting more participation we would make it easier to vote. One day, on a Tuesday, with limited ability to obtain an absentee ballot is ridiculous. Make it several days, perhaps a holiday (especially for major national elections), mail in ballots or on-line!
Get the big money out of the process! Get the Super PACs out of the process. Prosecute the liars!

MR. WILLIAMS

I have voted since I first registered when I was 18 years old. I just turned 61 and have been watching all the corrupt politicians who lie and how the wealthy and big business now own Senators, Congress persons, and even the President. So, I no longer see any reason to waste my time voting for what has turned into a "Dysfunctional Democracy" a “Plutocracy.” There’s no need to try to persuade or convince me otherwise and I’m surely not alone in my views. When I talk to my friends and even new people I meet, most feel the very same way and all agree that the change that’s needed is never going to happen in the voting booth.

Mystic Michael

Yes, long-term structural change will take far more than just voting. Yet if there's no need to try to persuade you that you've given up unnecessarily, then what's the point - ultimately of anything? If you feel that you have no meaningful control over your own life, then why not just curl up in fetal position, and wait for death?

As to whether or not you're alone in your views, what does that have to do with anything? Proving that misery loves company? Because it certainly doesn't mean that your position is justifiable - merely because others happen to share it. The mob can be wrong just as easily as can a single person.

Ironically, the dysfunction and corruption that you cite as a rationalization for your apathy and fatalism are the very tools that the plutocrats use against you - to effectively prevent you, plus million of others, from ever rising up and wresting control of the country from their sweaty little hands. The power of the people, united by shared purpose and determination, can accomplish nearly anything. Instead, we have willingly been set against one another, to squabble and contend over petty perks, seldom ever realizing that we share a common adversary.

Congratulations. You're now part of the problem.

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