Every Vote Matters

BY KI THOMPSON

BSB-KIThompsonRomances

 

About a week ago, Maryland held its gubernatorial primary election. Kathi and I had voted early because we worked as judges for the board of elections that day. We take voting seriously, even though Maryland is a blue state and the county we live in is especially blue. However, prior to our current governor, Maryland had a Republican in office (the first since Spiro Agnew), so it is still possible for Maryland to go in either direction.

It was disheartening then, to say the least, to witness the extremely low voter turnout – 22% of eligible voters showed up to cast their ballots. I was at our voting location from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm and was able to read most of a more than 400 page book on the Civil War. According to the Washington Post, Maryland had a 40% turnout for its primary in 1994 (still incredibly low) but the numbers have been declining since. And it’s not just Maryland. California had less than 24% turnout on June 3rd; in March, Texas had less than 10% Republicans and 4% Democrats show up; and fewer than 1 in 6 registered voters went to the polls in Indiana, North Carolina, and South Carolina (Washington Post, June 25).

Granted, it’s not a Presidential election year, and it’s only a primary, not the general election. But 22% – seriously? No one is certain what the reasons are, but most experts cite voter ennui, a complete lack of engagement. Perhaps they’ve had their fill of national partisan politics. Increasingly we see more finger pointing and less substantial discussion about the issues, and gridlock everywhere. The Republican Party suffers internally from determining whether they’re just plain conservative or extremely conservative. And Democrats have their own issues with those who want to see the party move away from the center and more to the left.

The other night, Kathi and I watched a documentary about the 50th anniversary of the murders of three civil rights workers in Mississippi, James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. Their killers: members of the Ku Klux Klan, the county sheriff’s office, and the local police department. Their crime: attempting to register African Americans to vote.

I don’t want to be melodramatic here, but the documentary reminds us that people have died for our right to vote. For more than 200 years, whether it was our founding fathers who fought for representation, the 15th Amendment to the Constitution that prohibits government from denying a citizen the right to vote based on race, the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote, or the Voting Rights Act of 1965, people fought, suffered physical and mental distress, and died for something we don’t even care about, but should.

Today, July 4th, %22Oh Say Can You See%22immigrants from all over the world will become citizens of the United States, some taking their oath in historic locations such as Williamsburg, Virginia, Monticello, Mount Vernon, even our National Parks, while others will take it in an innocuous auditorium in Anywhere USA. Most of these immigrants have waited years for this moment. Many come from countries where they have no rights at all and even face death for speaking out. But in America they will have a voice in the government who serves them.

So the next time there’s an election, be sure and vote. Those that have fought and died before you will thank you.

14 Responses to “Every Vote Matters”


  1. 1 Devlyn July 4, 2014 at 8:26 AM

    Thanks for the Blog KI, it is interesting to see how many people do and don’t come out to vote. As you are probably aware, voting is compulsory in federal and state elections here in Australia so it is hard for me to actually believe that people wouldn’t get off the couch to vote. It is ironic that the ones who don’t vote are probably the biggest complainers about the government.

    Like

    • 2 Lyn July 4, 2014 at 11:00 AM

      Wish we had that here….that you had to vote!!! instead many states are making it as hard to vote as possible. Last presidential election in some states people stood in line for more than 7 hrs….can you imagine the ones who went home? Our congress is ruled by ultra conservatives and because they lost the last 2 presidential elections they decided they would do nothing at all unless they absolutely had to… they closed down our government to the cost of 24 billion dollars last year. They hate our current president so much they will do anything to obstruct him. Today our 4th of July Democratic Independence Day….what a joke in the southwest women and mostly children fleeing from Honduras, Guatemala, & El Salvador to get away from civil war are being protested by a city in CA that has a processing center. I heard a report that 80 % of the girls are raped on their 1000 mile trek to the US as payment to get through Mexico. What is our great congress doing? Nothing Nothing Nothing

      Like

  2. 3 Sheri Campbell July 4, 2014 at 8:40 AM

    I just want to stand up and shout…YES! YES! Ki and Kathy. Excellent blog. I just don’t get anymore, well, I guess I do, the importance of voting is not important in our education system. It is comparable to gym class or study hall. I live in Texas a R/blue state. Makes me ashamed of “my fellow Americans”. We deserve what we get. Hell, I bet half of TEXANS have no idea how our GOV. thinks. Thank you for using this opportunity to say VOTE, so well. It was a different point of view. Wishing you both Happy Holiday, July 4th.

    Like

    • 4 Lyn July 4, 2014 at 11:06 AM

      Sheri
      TX is one of the worst states as far as voter prevention is concerned and the most anti women rights. Better go vote for your hero down there Wendy Davis!!! Man she was great last year…fighting for women.

      Like

  3. 5 kathiissermanphotos July 4, 2014 at 8:47 AM

    KI, as always, you get to the Heart of the Matter:-)

    Like

  4. 6 crowsheart July 4, 2014 at 11:01 AM

    right on, K.I…and write on….I am an old LP stuck on “vote”, vote, vote, …it’s so critical. Thanks for this, reminding people it’s important, this year and every opportunity we have to vote.

    Like

  5. 7 Carol July 4, 2014 at 11:19 AM

    Thanks for this blog, KI. As a daughter of immigrants, I have personal knowledge of how important the right to vote is. My father is probably rolling over in his grave at the news of such voter apathy.

    Like

  6. 8 John Crittenden July 4, 2014 at 1:34 PM

    Well said. I’m in New Jersey, where there is similar voter apathy. We’ve not elected a Republican to federal office in many, many years, so there’s little partisan reason to vote in primaries. All the struggling is done inside the parties, with the annointed ones appearing on the ballots in primaries and then in the general election. Locally, elections turn on local issues, meaning only the really engaged turn out. Our Republican Christie got to be governor because of years of perceived Democratic corruption and ineptitude in the Governor’s Office. And now he’s twisting in the wind in his own scandal, while continuing to govern like the Republican he is: He just vetoed limits on bullets in gun magazines — a very basic step toward gun control — and called it a triviality. It’s the toxic atmosphere of politics that keeps more people out of the process, and this is just what the politicians count on. They get to treat the population as consumers of their showy rhetoric and melodrama, while doing not much of anything. A major part of the blame goes to congressional district gerrymandering that ensures incumbents, of either party, face little real opposition from the other party. With such a freeze on everything up and down the ticket, it’s hard to blame the voters for being apathetic. Only when something as galvanizing as Wendy Davis’ candidacy in Texas comes along does anyone see a chance of upending anything and setting things straight.

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  7. 9 Sheri Campbell July 5, 2014 at 9:19 AM

    Thanks for the good wishes, Wishing you both a fun holiday too.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. 10 S.A. July 6, 2014 at 10:18 AM

    Thank you for sharing this post! I, too, feel that voting is not only a privilege, but a responsibility – one that too many take for granted. I have a cousin who, in her 20s, didn’t vote and then later complained about an election outcome. She was startled when I bluntly told her that she had no space to complain since she’d not bothered to exercise her right to vote. Thank you for your time and efforts, both in voting and in supporting the voting process, and again, thanks for the reminder about how important it is for the U.S. citizenry to participate in our governing process.

    Like

  9. 11 KI July 7, 2014 at 8:43 PM

    Thanks to everyone for the comments. It’s great knowing there are so many others out there who feel the same. If everyone voted, think how different things could be.

    Like

  10. 12 solargrrl July 10, 2014 at 12:41 PM

    Excellent blog, Kathy. I vote in every single election, no matter how big or how small. If people realized the power they have in that voting booth, maybe more would come out to vote.

    Like


  1. 1 Some Haps! | Women and Words Trackback on July 19, 2014 at 10:35 AM
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