Today is Election Day, and even if the races in your town are uncontested, or you think it’s a waste of time to vote, or you just don’t want to rush home from work before the polls close—think again, please.
Given that this year is not a presidential election year, turnout is expected to be lower than usual in most areas, and that’s a shame if such a prediction comes true.
We’re in historic times, with record low approval ratings for our national politicians. “Occupy” protests signal the tip of a fractured iceberg of discontent on economic and political fronts. We see political polarization, sky-high unemployment and economic disparity as the triptych setting for our nation’s discontent.
At the risk of sounding sappy, getting people vested in the process again might be the vital first step on getting us back on the long track ahead of us.
I’ve written before about the dysfunction on Capitol Hill; I’m only stronger in my belief that most elected officials are removed from the day-to-day concerns of their electorate and that they tend to politicize every agenda along severely polarized positions.
By stepping into the ring in greater numbers, voters send a message loud and clear that their voice needs to matter, on local, state and national levels.
I wonder whether there needs to be a larger scale examination of our voting process in order to make it easier for citizens to exercise their right to vote.
We’ve been voting on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November since 1854. The history of why we vote on that date shows it’s largely for antiquated reasons: We were an agrarian society back then and the date fell after the final harvest. It also had to do with how slowly the results in nationwide presidential elections could be communicated in time for making the Constitutional deadline for the Electoral College.
Fast forward now to our internet age of immediacy. When our level of communication no longer hampers the reporting of results, and in fact is capable of speeding it or providing voters access to the process, perhaps it’s time to revisit how our country votes.
Some districts around the country have already amended voting logistics and methods, making early voting standard or postal voting open to all voters, not just absentee. While those who object to electronic voting cite potential for voter fraud, it is employed in other countries, including Canada. We’re a wired world now, surely someone can secure online voting to make it easier for everyone, let alone disabled voters, seniors or citizens who are otherwise disenfranchised.
And why are we voting only on one weekday? This is often a major impediment to many in the workforce. Why not extend voting over multiple days to include a weekend? I know, this can be debated endlessly and probably would make a perfect college thesis—but we need to make the process accessible and more important to the voting public.
But truthfully, it comes down to one simple tenet I hold close: voting is the right thing to do. I take my children into the voting booth, sometimes choking back a sob as I explain that the action is really the purest form of what this country was founded for: Representation. It’s the constitutional guarantee we can express our views and our voice.
It’s the most important display of power we have.
Make it a point, do what you can to get to the polls. Especially having spent much of the last week without power, I think we all know how good having power really feels.