Tag Archives: voter turnout

Once more, with emphasis: Get out … and vote!

I’ve displayed this video already on this blog.

I want to show it once more as Amarillo and the rest of Texas vote today for local officeholders.

My friend Chris Hays, the general manager of Panhandle PBS, makes a passionate case for why it’s important to vote in these elections.

The short answer? The local offices have more direct impact on our daily lives than the offices at the state or national levels.

And yet … voter turnout for these City Hall, school board and college offices tend to attract dismal turnouts.

The Amarillo City Council election might pull greater than average numbers when all the ballots are counted this evening. City officials will boast about attracting, oh, maybe 20 percent of those who are eligible to vote.

Big bleeping deal!

This is one final plea for those who haven’t yet voted to get out and do so.

It is far better for everyone if you make these critical choices for yourself rather than relying on your neighbor to make them for you.

After all, your neighbor just might have a different view of how your community should work than you do.


Obama not calling for mandatory voting

White House press flack Josh Earnest today sought to explain that President Obama isn’t calling for a specific law to require Americans to vote.

Hey, I get what the president said. He was making some kind of suggestion that it might be a good idea. I disagree with the notion of mandatory voting, as it seems vaguely un-American to tell us we must do something.


Actually, this is a healthy discussion to have.

Two states, Oregon and Washington, allow voters to mail in their ballots. Voter turnout in those two states is far greater than it is in, oh, Texas. It’s great that voters can cast their ballots in the comfort of their living rooms.

My preference? I still like the old-fashioned way of voting. Wait until Election Day, go to the polling place and stand in line with other voters, pass the time away waiting for a voting booth to become available. I dislike early voting and I do so only when I’m going to be away on Election Day.

I am of an old-school mentality that prefers — for lack of a better term — the pageantry of voting.

Early voting hasn’t boosted turnout; it’s just allowed more people to vote early. It reduces the crush at the polling places on Election Day.

One idea worth considering is making presidential — and midterm — Election Day a national holiday. Don’t go to work or school. Don’t do anything that would divert attention from the task of voting. Perhaps have the event occur on a Saturday.

I heard the president clearly in Cleveland and understood the context of his remarks.

Voter turnout stinks. Big money is too pervasive. However, let’s not require Americans to vote.


Mandatory voting? Bad idea, Mr. President

President Obama believes big money has too much influence in determining who gets elected.

I agree with him.

He also suggests that mandatory voting is a constructive reform that would counteract big money’s pervasive idea.

I disagree with that idea.


The president spoke at a town hall and pitched the idea of requiring citizens to vote to an audience. He said other countries require it. He cited Australia as one example.

Allow me to argue that one of the many aspects of “American exceptionalism” is the notion that Americans are free to vote or not vote. We proclaim our love of liberty and while I bemoan constantly the hideous voter turnouts — particularly in state and local elections — I remain enough of an optimist to think we can browbeat complacent citizens to get off their duffs and vote.

We elect presidents with, say, 60 percent turnouts. Political scientists are happy to see that kind of turnout. I find it disgraceful. That means 40 percent of the eligible population doesn’t care enough to vote for those seeking to lead the greatest nation on Earth.

But should we force people to vote?

I’m dubious of that requirement. The freedoms we enjoy should include the freedom to be apathetic. It’s individuals’ call.

Besides, requiring people to vote removes the great political putdown that many Americans — myself included — are proud to utter when the situation presents itself: If you haven’t voted, then keep your trap shut.

But, yes, the president is correct about one aspect of his remarks. Big money wields way too much power.

'Majority rule' is a major misnomer

Majorities determine how government should be run.

That’s how it’s supposed to go. A study just released, though, suggests that the United States of America has a “majority of a minority” rule when it comes to electing people to high office, at least during these mid-term election cycles.

Turnout for the 2014 mid-terms reached a near-historic low, according to political analyst Michael McDonald, a University of Florida expert on voter turnout.


The turnout was 36.4 percent of eligible voters.

What did most of the nation’s eligible voters miss? They missed the chance to determine who should represent them in Congress, in governor’s offices and in state legislatures. These folks determine a lot of serious public policy issues that affect us all.

Most of us sat this one out.

Too bad for those who didn’t take the time to vote.

According to MSNBC.com: “Most observers attribute the low turnout to frustration among voters at the gridlock that has enveloped Washington, after Republicans made stymieing President Obama their top priority. That has left many voters—especially Democrats—feeling skeptical about the system’s ability to deliver change. Eighteen percent of voters said they feel they can never trust the government in Washington to do the right thing, according to the NBC News national exit poll.”

That’s so very interesting and so self-defeating. If frustration in government has gotten voters down, then it becomes voters’ responsibility to step up to change whatever ails the system, which cannot change itself.

We hold the key. You and me. Citizens who have the right afforded to us by the very government we supposedly detest to actually change it.



Don't vote? Don't gripe

This item comes from Robert Reich, a former labor secretary in the (first?) Clinton administration.

He posted it on Facebook.

“I ran into someone this morning who said he wasn’t voting in the midterms because he was ‘disgusted’ with politics. I told him if he doesn’t vote he forfeits his right to complain. Election Day is a week from tomorrow, and in many places you can vote before then. Voting isn’t just a right. It’s a privilege. Yet the largest party in America isn’t the Republicans or the Democrats; it’s the party of non-voters.

“The biggest question on the midterm ballot isn’t whom you send to Washington or the state house. It’s who you are and what you stand for. The biggest problem for our democracy isn’t regressive Republicans or spendthrift Democrats; it’s apathetic citizens.

“Please vote.”

Back when I worked in daily journalism, I would craft the obligatory “get out and vote” editorials. I wrote so many of those editorials I began to bore myself, as I felt as though I was talking to my desk, or my chair … or the hat rack sitting in the corner of my office.

I tried every way I knew to try to get people to vote.

It was futile.

In Texas, the turnout — even during presidential election years — is among the lowest in the nation. It’s right down there with Mississippi and Alabama.

Media like to measure the turnout as a percentage of “registered voters.” To my way of thinking that’s a distorted view. The real turnout should be measured against the percentage of “eligible voters,” which includes all citizens who are eligible to register to vote, but who haven’t even bothered to do that.

The “eligible voter” barometer sends the percentage of turnout straight into the crapper.

The mid-term election will produce the usual abysmal vote-turnout total. The winners will declare victory and announce that “the people have spoken.” Well, what we’re going to be “celebrating” the next day will be that a majority of a minority of Americans will have voted.

In Texas, that number will represent a significant minority of citizens who even bothered to vote. Those are the folks whose gripes deserve to be heard.

The rest of y’all? Shut the hell up.


Scots show the way

Well done, Scotland! 85-percent turnout, 10-percentage points won the voting question, a solid, unquestionable majority. Scotland won either way. It will now wield more sway in the UK. Democracy works. I hope we would take a lesson from it and regard ours as lovingly.

The above message comes from my friend Dan Wallach, who posted it on Facebook today.

His comment comes in the wake of Scotland’s landmark election in which the Scots decided to remain a part of the United Kingdom.

Dan isn’t making any judgment here on the correctness of the Scots’ vote, but he is saying something profound about Americans’ own lack of civic involvement in matters of vital national importance.

Eighty-five percent of Scotland’s eligible voters turned out. Americans are facing a mid-term election in a few weeks that likely will draw less than 40 percent of those who are eligible to vote.

What’s at stake in the U.S. of A.? Oh, just the control of Congress, one-third of that thing we call “co-equal government.” We elect our presidents usually with less than 60 percent of eligible voters taking part. That’s a big deal, too, given that presidents get to select judges to sit on our federal court benches, giving them lifetime jobs in which they interpret whether laws are constitutional.

The Nov. 4 election turnout in Texas, I’m sorry to predict, will be less than the national average. I fear it’s going to be significantly less.

Americans don’t quite care enough to vote for lawmakers or for their president. At least they don’t care the way the Scots showed they cared about whether to declare their independence or stay attached to England as part of the UK.

Dan is right. “Democracy works.” It always works better the more people get involved in that exercise we call voting.

Get out and vote, Ferguson residents

There appears to be a fairly straightforward political solution to the problems that have beset Ferguson, Mo., the suburban community being swallowed up by unrest and violence in the wake of the shooting of a young black man by a white police officer.

The town is roiling with turbulence. Cops are under fire for their gross overreaction to residents’ protests; Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has called out the National Guard; U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is going there to assess whether federal involvement is needed; President Obama is calling for calm; the town is swarming with broadcast and print media representatives, not to mention an assortment of civil-rights activists.

The solution? It’s at the ballot box.

National Public Radio reported this morning a few interesting facts:

Ferguson is roughly 65 percent African-American; its mayor is white; its city council is mostly white; its police force has three African-American officers. Here’s the kicker: The 2013 municipal election produced a 12 percent turnout among African-American voters.

The solution? The city needs to elect qualified African-American residents to positions of power on the city council, who then need to perhaps reshape the city’s law enforcement infrastructure to reflect more accurately the city’s population.

Imagine, then, what might happen to a troubled community if the city’s police force and governing council reflected the backgrounds of the residents whose interests they represent.