Earl and I walked into the Town Hall around 2:30 p.m. on Election Day. There were three cars in the parking lot and a few signs indicating the 100-foot marker from the voting area. The large hall, which has been devoid of traditional voting machines for several years now, was quiet. Three senior citizens sat at a table: one was writing down the name of each voter and assigning them a number. This was recorded in a standard wire-bound notebook. The second person looked up our records in one of two large books. We signed next to our own signature from a couple of decades ago. The third person gave us a ballot sheet and pointed us toward the shabbily installed designated “marking area”. Earl and I colored in the dots on the sheet from the third person in the processing lane; this is how we now vote in New York State.
Earl and I were the only two people in the large voting room. No one was waiting nor walking nor coloring in dots when we got there. No one was arriving as we were departing. I was voter #210 according to the wire-bound notebook. Curiously, my sheet was recorded as #206 on the electronic voting machine. I don’t know what happened to the four missing votes, but a lively conversation between processing line members one and three indicated that they were having issues with the electronic voting process again this year.
Now, Earl and I were voting in the middle of the afternoon. In this neck of the woods the voting locations tend to be busier after work. However, by Wednesday morning the news outlets were chattering about the fact that about one-third of the voting public voted in this 2014 midterm elections this year.
According to some news sources, voter turnout was at its lowest in 70 years. According to Al Jazeera News, turnout was comparatively lower in 40 of the 50 states.
Image courtesy of Al Jazeera News.
I find this disheartening. One third of the American people made decisions for the entire populace. While this is most certainly democracy in action, it’s certainly not how I believe democracy is suppose to work.
I have never missed an opportunity to vote. I soundly believe that it is our civic responsibility to cast a ballot whenever given the opportunity to do so. It’s the right of every American citizen and it’s a right that should not be taken lightly. To disregard the responsibility of having your voice heard, as far as I’m concerned, is anti-American.
Do you know what happens when there’s a low voter turnout? The most passionate, typically those on the far-left and far-right, tend to be the ones that assure their voice will be heard. The vast majority of Americans tend to be closer to the center of the political divide. Why would you want the extremes making decisions for the entire country?
It’s going to be an interesting two years until the Presidential Elections in 2016. I’m curious to see what happens at our next major opportunity to make our voices heard.
As an American, you have a voice. Don’t take that lightly.