“Democracy is based upon the conviction that there are extraordinary possibilities in ordinary people.” — Harry Emerson Fosdick
We’d be willing to wager that if you asked 100 people what the most important responsibility one can have as an American, a good number — perhaps the majority — of people would say voting.
And they would be right.
But for all its importance, too few Americans take the time and effort to cast a ballot. According to CNN, voter turnout for the 2016 presidential election dipped to nearly its lowest point in two decades. As the last votes came in, about 55% of voting age citizens cast ballots this year.
That measure of turnout is the lowest in a presidential election since 1996, when 53.5% of voting-age citizens turned out.
There was a relatively bright spot in the 2018 midterms — as voter energy seemed high — about 47% of the voting-eligible population cast a ballot, according to early estimates from the United States Election Project.
Those might have broken midterm election records, but the numbers are encouraging only in a glass-half-full kind of way. There’s still plenty of empty glass left. The fact of the matter is when it comes to voting, too many of us decide not to participate.
We hear the excuses all the time. Voting can be a time consuming affair. You have to take off from work. You have to stand in line, sometimes for hours.
We get it. Voting can be a pain.
Climate change. Race. Immigration. The deficit. Privacy in the digital age. These issues will have massive consequences in our immediate and long-term future and are too important to tackle with barely half of the nation lending a voice.
As we approach the Feb. 3 deadline for voter registration, how do we convince people that they should participate?
Looks like it’s time for some voting evangelism.
We’d like to hear from you. Send us a tweet @dailytimes and let us — and our readers — know why you plan to vote.
Here are some basic rules. Please keep the tweet at 240 characters — no expanded threads. No campaign endorsements. And no profanity. Pretty simple, right? Talk to us just like you would talk to your friend or your neighbor.
Once the answers start coming in, we will publish your answers periodically in our opinion page.
Here is a sample from our news room:
County government reporter Shelby Harris: “I vote because I believe not voting is forfeiting your rights. I don’t want to live in a world that I don’t have a say in, and voting is the easiest way to ensure that I have a say in what goes on around me.”
City Editor Mike Sisco: “If you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain. And I like to complain.”
City government reporter Andrew Jones: “Voting is not just important, it’s one of the most essential ways we
can exercise our right in a democracy. Furthermore, I believe Nov. 8 should be a national holiday: Nothing AT ALL should impede working families from getting to the polls.”
We’d love to see our Twitter feed flooded with reasons why you are registering to vote and heading out to the polls on election day.
Even better would be a flood of Blount Countians wearing the I voted sticker after casting a ballot.