Friday, November 16, 2012

Why only 54% voting in last election

An Arizona woman ran over her husband with a car because she found out he hadn’t voted in the presidential election.  The woman, Holly Solomon, believed that if Obama was elected, her family would be worse off, so she took things into her own hands.  Solomon’s husband is in critical condition in the local hospital. 

If the man survives (I certainly hope he does) and if doesn’t get divorced (although, one can’t help to think he will) he will certainly think twice about not voting the next time an election comes around. 

Voter turnout this last election was at about 54% according to Loyola University.  That number might be revised in the future, but it is a working estimate right now.  This reverses a trend over the last couple of decades according to George Mason University.  In the seventies the percent that voted was as low as 40%, but has been rising since.  In 2008 during the last presidential election, a record setting 62% voted.

So much has been written about this subject at the end of every presidential election that it might be difficult to find a new angle on the story.  But, in this case, I am not sure it needs a new angle.  What the numbers tell us is that there a 50/50 chance that the guy standing behind you in the theater line didn’t vote.  Even though he didn't vote, he is still ranting about the evils of government to his date. 

The truth is we are living with a government that only half of the people are taking part.  The rest, live or die with the outcome, but don’t take the time to be involved in the choices.  In the 70’s, a minority of people made all the decisions.  In a representative democracy, that is a poor indicator of the apathy of citizens. 

When you think about the way political campaigns are conducted, it is no wonder.  If fast food marketing was like political marketing, I am not sure the industry would be doing any better than our political process.  The difference is fast food marketing avoids bashing the competition.  They also make sure that everyone can participant in the purchasing of fast food and enjoy it.   

Political advertising, especially those coming from Super Pacs, produce advertising campaigns that make all politicians look like evil incarnated.  (Yes, I know, many of you already think that, but part of the reason is that you have been told that by both sides.)  Rarely do they define the issues and propose clear solutions.  Fast food restaurants don’t talk about the poor nourishment of their competitors.  They know that might come back at them.  Instead, they show happy people enjoying their food while inviting us to join them.

But, more importantly, especially for this past election, fast food restaurants make sure that you are never far away from getting your fast food fix.  I doubt any of us are more than a mile away from a palace of grease.  The majority of the time, you are likely to be much closer to more than a dozen.  If fact, if you can’t get to them, they will bring the food to you. 

Every day, fast food chains are in our face telling us how close they are and how happy we would feel if you would just come on down.  In this last election, states and local communities were attempting to suppress voter turnout.  Then, they challenged those that did show up.  Can you image that happening at a fast food restaurant? 

“Burger and fries with a shake, coming right up sir,” the counter person would say.  “Do you have a driver’s license or other id with a burger-and-fries-with-a-coke card allowing you to make this purchase?”
There is no question that we need to make sure those that show at the polls are eligible to vote.   In advance, we need to ensure that everyone knows the rules, has the proper documents and has the time to understand the rules and obtain documents needed.  Then, make it easy to actually vote when it comes time.

1 comment:

  1. Being a progressive to win isn't a long term strategy. Hope that election in the Philippines well do the right process.