Voter Apathy — Part II

Earlier today, I wrote a piece about young people, millennials if you wish, and their reasons excuses for not voting in next week’s election.  I also noted that according to the article in New York Magazine’s Intelligencer, just over half of adults plan to vote.  I did a bit of research and found that the last time more than half of eligible voters actually turned out to vote in a mid-term election was 1914, just after the beginning of World War I!  According to the PEW Research Center …

The United States’ turnout in national elections lags behind other democratic countries with developed economies, ranking 26th out of 32 among peers in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Folks … this is pathetic!  Just under 56% of eligible voters in the U.S. cast ballots in the 2016 election! PEW chart

A number of the countries with the highest percentage of voter turnout have compulsory voting, which is a complex topic for another day, but something to think about.

According to an article in the New York Times …

Perhaps the most significant change has been in who votes. Unlike in the 19th century, voter turnout is now highly correlated with class. More than 80 percent of Americans with college degrees vote compared with about 40 percent of Americans without high school degrees, according to Jonathan Nagler, a political scientist at New York University and co-author of a 2014 book, “Who Votes Now.”

Last night, I read an interesting, fairly lengthy report by Center For American Progress  about ways in which we might be able to increase voter participation in the U.S.  It is well worth the read if you have time.  In short, the report lists some of the reasons for low voter turnout, and also some recommendations for encouraging voter participation by making the process simpler:

  • Streamline voter registration with automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration (SDR),11 preregistration of 16- and 17-year-olds, and online voter registration
  • Make voting more convenient with in-person early voting, no-excuse absentee voting, and vote-at-home with vote centers
  • Provide sufficient resources in elections and ensure voting is accessible
  • Restore rights for formerly incarcerated people
  • Strengthen civics education in schools
  • Invest in integrated voter engagement (IVE) and outreach

I agree, but it should be duly noted that all disenfranchisement laws and voter suppression tools are barriers that must be removed.

America’s representative government is warped by low voter participation, and, of those who do vote, the group is not representative of the broader population [emphasis added] of eligible American citizens. Research shows that communities of color, young people, and low-income Americans are disproportionately burdened by registration barriers, inflexible voting hours, and polling place closures, making it more difficult for these groups to vote. Participation gaps persist along racial, educational, and income-level differences.

VoterTurnout-fig1-693

Remember how hard African-Americans fought for the right to cast a ballot?  Remember poll taxes and tests?  In 1870, the 15th Amendment was ratified, giving non-white men and freed male slaves the right to vote, but almost immediately the southern states began taking that right away via a series of Jim Crow laws.  It would be another 95 years until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 gave African-Americans the right to vote.  Blood was shed in the fight to earn this right.  Do the names James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and Medgar Evers ring any bells?  Each gave their lives in the fight for the vote. How do you imagine those who fought the good fight would feel if they heard somebody say, as Clara Bender of Madison, West Virginia, said …

“I just never got into it. I got married, had babies — just never had the time.”

And do you realize that it was less than 100 years ago – 1920, to be exact – that the 19th Amendment was finally ratified, giving women the right to vote?  There are women alive today who remember when women couldn’t vote.  What do you think Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton would have to say to Megan Davis of Rhode Island, who says …

“I feel like my voice doesn’t matter. People who suck still are in office, so it doesn’t make a difference.”

Ay, pobrecita!!!

There is one and only one valid reason for a person age 18 or older not to vote, and that is that he or she has been disenfranchised in some way by state laws.  Gerrymandering, restrictive voter ID laws, shortened polling hours, lack of no-excuse absentee voting, polling places closed, voters given incorrect information, voters restricted by living in rural areas, and the list of tricks the states have up their sleeves is endless.  Anybody … ANYBODY who is not affected by disenfranchisement, else in a coma, has not only the right, but the DUTY to vote!  Sorry, folks, but it is one day every two years, and takes a matter of minutes.  Don’t like the country being ruled by the very filthy rich?  If you don’t vote, you caused it.  Don’t like the way your tax money is being spent?  If you didn’t vote, it’s your own damn fault. Those who fail to vote may very well be contributing to a future that none of us want.  vote-animated

50 thoughts on “Voter Apathy — Part II

  1. Finally! Back after a frustrating week and less frustrated but still hurting from the everhchanging weather patterns on these old bones, but I sure voted yesterday! It was extremely lonely in there with only the poll workers in the room with me and the several empty areas in that huge room. My hope is that they were only experiencing a lull between the crowds, but since the day was sunny and warm yesterday, that is probably not the case.
    I was surrounded by friends just outside the doors to the room set aside for our polling place. They were all invisible as I went in but I didn’t even make it thru the doors before being surrounded by people. Most of them said they had gone down early to vote, but none of them was wearing the little sticker we are handed on the way out. I stuck mine greaton my chair rather than on my shirt but still visible. Had to edge away from the doors slowly to avoid knocking someone down with my power chair but after a few years most of us learn how to get away without seriously injuring the idiots who don’t have enough sense to move when they see we are trying to move away.
    Well, without divulging my choices, this is the first time I have ever voted the sTRAIGHT TICKET.and it was ;t the party our incumbent prez belongs to. Am I good at not divulging or what?! I can’t keep Christmas gifts a secret either. Kinda pathetic, huh!
    Gotta go now. I’m looking for a shovel to make it faster getting rid of f lot of the stuff that is being piled on the floor around y chair. It’s reached avalanche proportions now so really HAS to be put away. One day each week is st aside for this task, and unfortunately this is it! I still wiggle my nose Bewitched style before getting to it. Still hoping the day will come when it will work but not holding my breath.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good to have you back!!! I can relate to the changing weather patterns, although in my case it causes breathing problems rather than aches & pains. And good for you for voting!!! It’s a bit discouraging to hear that the room wasn’t filled with all your neighbors eagerly casting their ballot, but not surprising.

      I used to work with a wonderful woman named Robin who also had MS and used a power chair. She used to love to come up behind me and give a few blasts of her horn when I was walking down the hallway! She would then pretend to run me down, and I, of course, would pretend to fear for my life!

      Now, let’s see … I’m trying to figure out from those ever-so-subtle hints who you voted for … ummmm … wow … you sure are a great secret-keeper, for I am clueless! 😉 😉 😉 That said … good job, my friend!

      Hah … I have been trying that nose-wriggling trick for decades now and still haven’t had any success. I think perhaps you have to be an actual witch for it to work. Thus, like you, I am looking for a shovel to shovel out my closet so that I can find the Christmas decorations!

      Hugs, my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m just trying to find my floor most of the time. I have my quilting stuff out and stacked in piles where I can get to them easily. it works well for me but makes everything look messy as long as it is out. It takes me so long to sort the colors that I just leave it out until I’m finished with the project. Easier on me in the long run.

        our district 13 proved the point about one vote making a difference. The incumbent lost by one vote, so now he is calling for a recanvass. Must be a Republican thing — if you can’t buy the office then challenge th outcome! The incumbent spent twice as much on his campaign, well over $100,000, while the challenger/winner spent less than $65,000.

        Many hugs!

        Liked by 1 person

        • And you have just reminded me why I gave up knitting!!! Just a few weeks ago, in fact, I dug all the bags of yarn that I had set aside for various projects, and gave them to my daughter, who has recently taken up crocheting. I told her to do with them as she wished, but to make sure they never crossed the threshold of my room again! 😀

          Yep, if you can’t do it honestly, then try for doing it dishonestly. To be fair, though, there are a number of races across the nation that are still too close to call and provisional ballots are still being counted. A couple, I think, will end in either re-counts or run-offs and frankly, I hope they do. One is Kemp v Abrams in Georgia, which was about as rigged an election as ever there was, and yet Stacy Abrams is nearly neck-in-neck. He has already declared himself the winner, but … we’ll see!

          Hugs ‘n love, my friend!

          Like

  2. So glad you mentioned the 1965 Voting Rights Act. But of course the right-wing Supreme Court gutted the ‘pre-clearance’ portion of that Act in 2013. If I remember correctly, Justice Roberts wrote that he didn’t see much evidence of the kind of racist Jim Crow shenanigans anymore. Boy was he wrong. Just look at what they’re doing now. And they’re doing it right out in the open. They know they own the Supreme Court now. It’s a travesty beyond belief. And when we don’t vote in large numbers, this is what happens. We get Trump. We get a far-right court system. And now Dems are fighting from behind. It makes Tuesday’s election far beyond important. I’m worried.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are so right … apparently Justice Roberts needs to step out of the Court every now and then and take a look at the nation, the world.

      Like you, my friend, I am worried about Tuesday’s election. Yes, there is a lot of energy at the state level for a number of the democratic candidates, but … there are a lot of dirty tricks being used by Trump and the GOP that could potentially wreak havoc. Plus, I don’t see a strong, united front nationally on the part of the democrats. While so many are predicting a ‘blue wave’, I am not feeling confident in the least. And frankly, if Trump is given another two years of basically free rein, I fear what our nation will look like by 2020 and whether there will even be an election then.

      Liked by 3 people

      • I agree about the Democrats not presenting a united front. The fissure between the younger left-progressive wing and the old guard liberal and centrist wings has really become apparent. A lot like what has happened to the GOP since the Tea party and especially since Trump. It just took Democrats longer to get there. Maybe by 2020 they’ll have their brand defined again and they can win back the White House. For now the Senate might have to do.

        Liked by 1 person

          • 😉 I wish it were both, but unfortunately, all but 9 of the senate seats up for grabs are already held by democrats, and we’ll be lucky to hang onto what we have. Most are predicting that the GOP will increase their majority by a seat of two. 😦

            Like

        • I certainly hope the democrats can get their act together for the 2020 elections, for I don’t think this nation can take another 4 years of Trump. The chances of gaining a majority in the Senate this year are slim to none, but the House is a good possibility if we can just get people off their apathetic patooties and out to the polls!

          Liked by 1 person

      • It really is a referendum on Trump. If we can’t at least take the House? Disaster for two more years. America is on the clock. Even if Mueller comes up with a damning report/indictment…etc… Nothing will come of it if R’s maintain control. That’s why this election matters so much. Keeping my fingers crossed!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent post. Many good reasons why voter turnout is low and the republicans want to keep it that way with so much voter suppression and inaccessibility.
    Bu the very people who could change things for themselves for the better are the very ones that don’t vote.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Plus I voted for Hillary, not because I really liked her, but because of the Supreme Court picks that the conservatives would chose and now we see that come to fruition and the biased partisanship that will result in not representing the majority of people in the US over time. The court is now rigged to the right.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Mary! I simply don’t understand how anybody who is eligible, who isn’t being kept from the voter rolls, can justify not voting, and then complain for the next two years or four that they don’t like the way government is being run.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Jill, thanks for these posts. Two things. First, real leaders would try to remedy our non-voting problem. Unfortunately, one party actively works to suppress the vote. Second, for those who don’t vote for the lesser of two evils. A retiree in Florida said it well. He said I have choice between a Senator who does not do much and one who is harmful on what he has done. He chose the former.

    Elections have consequences. The US President choice was between a competent imperfect candidate and one who would not know the truth if he tripped over it who uses people. I chose the former. Those who did not vote because of her imperfections helped elect a man who is harming our planet and country. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • I couldn’t have said it better, my friend! That’s why I felt compelled to do this series, because everybody needs to understand just how important it is to use this one opportunity to make our voices heard, to make a difference.

      Like

  5. Looking at the comparison graph, you can see that the US actually has a high percentage (around 85%) of eligible voters registered to vote. And yet there’s this mediocre to low turnout. That’s why a high turnout this time will bring dramatic changes. Everybody has to VOTE!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You know what I am about to say, Jill, and no offence intended, but as long as my cloice is the lesser of two evils, I refuse to vote. Mind you, I am Canadian. My non-vote does not affect your vote. Good luck to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Very true. Even though I have to admit I haven’t been voting in ages. In GB I am only allowed to vote on county level and that will probably be changed with Brexit. No one knows yet. Germany makes it incredibly difficult to vote when you live abroad and I don’t want to go back. What effects me happens here so I want to vote here and not only on county level 😪

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think I realized that you were in the UK! Yes, I can see where only voting on a local level would be frustrating. I have a friend in the Netherlands who is an Austrian national, and she can vote in some of the Dutch elections, but not all, and can cast an absentee ballot in most Austrian elections, if they send it to her on time.

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      • I think all the voting systems need a revamp and politicians need a revamp too. I think politicians should only get as much pay rise as they give their people. I don’t know how it works in the US but here they give themselves pay rises. Austerity for 8 years meant all our incomes effectively have gone down. We were lucky to get 1 % for a long time but our politicians had 13,14,15% every year. And then they wonder why people get frustrated and don’t vote.

        Liked by 2 people

        • It works very much the same here. Congress has refused to raise the minimum wage rate from $7.25 since 2009, yet they have given themselves raises during that time. Not to mention they get perks that the rest of us can only imagine, like the best health care, free travel, and contributions from wealthy donors in exchange for their vote. Yes, it is highly frustrating, but all the more reason to vote. We do not have term limits, and some of our members of Congress have served well over 20 years … time to take out the trash. I would like to see term limits such that no member of Congress can serve more than a total of 12 years, and also campaign finance overhaul so that they cannot receive unlimited funds from large corporations and lobbyists such as the NRA, in exchange for their vote on laws. They forget they are there to represent the people, and instead do the bidding of the very wealthy. Sigh.

          Liked by 1 person

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