The mid-term elections are coming up next week and as recent trends suggest, voter turnout will be pathetic. Here in Georgia, the SOS office today predicted about a 40% turnout (why do they predict turnout? Does everyone think they are Jean Dixon?). I suspect the turnout in my state will be below that prediction. Seems people just don’t seem to care anymore. Too much trouble to vote, I reckon. Never has been to me, though. I like to complain about politicians and the state of government affairs so I figure if I vote, I get to complain whenever I wish – like this blog and this post.
One group of Americans that are voting less these days is young people. Voter turnout and interest in politics has declined among America’s youth since the early 1970s. In presidential election years, for example, 18- to 20-year-old voter turnout has decreased from a high of 48 percent in 1972 to just 28 percent in 2000. In midterm congressional elections, turnout among the young is even worse, with only 20 percent of those younger than 25 bothering to show up at the polls. Compare these results with those for seniors, 65 percent of whom voted in 2000.
In 1960 almost 80 percent of Americans younger than 30 watched the Kennedy-Nixon debates, by 2000 less than 40 percent of this demographic tuned in to the first Bush-Gore debate. It seems the “political knowledge gap” between the young and old has been widening for almost two generations; indeed more and more of our youngest citizens are unaware of important political events and lack general political knowledge. And such knowledge is important for nurturing civic values and encouraging an active participation in politics. We need to teach our youth the important value of being politically engaged. Otherwise, we’re in trouble … and you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to figure this out.
We also need to make it more convenient to vote. Weekend voting would help. There are places that already do this and the turnout is better. Oregon only does voting by mail – seems like a great idea to me. Here in Gerogia (and I believe other states are doing this, too), any person can request an absentee ballot – no reason has to be given (I voted last week – cost me 2 stamps and saved me a lot of time). Plus, you can do early voting a week ahead of time – but you still have to go to the election office to do it – not such a great idea (IMHO). Why don’t politicians and legislators make it easier to vote? This ain’t brain surgery. Getting creative and coming up with new ways and means to improve systems is something the business community has been doing for centuries. Why don’t the decision makers at a national level get it? I think I know the answer. The less people who vote, the easier it is to manipulate the masses.
As Thomas Jefferson once stated:
“We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”
Go vote … it ain’t brain surgery.