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Apathetic voters

To the Editor:

Now that the braying of political office seekers has died down, the national, state and regional electorate is going to have to take a long, hard and honest look at itself. By electorate, I mean me, you, us.

National exit polls put voter turnout at 34 percent – out of 100 percent. Let’s look at that number another way. Out of all the people that could vote, 66 percent did not. That is a shameful, disgraceful number. It doesn’t matter what your political affiliation is, or even if you don’t have one. Sixty-six percent of the nation did not show up – apparently they had manicures to get or a game was on.

The midterm elections aren’t sexy. They aren’t terribly focused. There is usually not any one candidate to look to and think, “Boy, I have to vote for this man/woman.” Instead it is an amalgam of varying stripes. Some states had senatorial races. In Franklin County, there were Missouri legislature seats to be filled as well as the Franklin County Presiding Commissioner. There were judges to be reappointed or not. Oh, and four puny little “also-rans” in the form of Constitutional amendments.

Franklin County should congratulate itself on its stellar voter turnout. With a population of 101,816 (2013 estimated census), approximately 71,067 were eligible to vote. The actual number of voters that were registered was 69,318. Only 26,336 actually voted according to the Franklin County Clerk’s office. That’s 37.99 percent. That’s how many people showed up to vote. Unfortunately, 62.01 percent had better things to do. But good news; the national average was beaten by a whopping 4 percent.

In Franklin County, the issues and candidates were either not interesting enough or too complicated for the apathetic majority. Instead, they stayed home in droves and will now, presumably, continue to bemoan the sad state of affairs in American and Missouri politics. Indeed, in some cases, even the parties themselves weren’t interested enough to even field a candidate. Ten positions had only one candidate.

We should be aware, however, that ignoring the political climate is, in and of itself, a vote. For those setting policy at national and state levels, not voting hands them a golden pass to follow their own agenda – or the agenda of their contributors.

No, politics is not pretty, nor is it much fun, but it is ours to make, modify or completely rebuild. It can’t be done from the couch. It has to be done in the election booth. This midterm, voters stayed away, like a child pretending if they can’t see something it can’t hurt them. I suppose the premise of the non-voters is that if they don’t pay attention, then everything will work out ok. Somehow.

We seem always to be a nation at the crossroads: fighting for independence, fighting against slavery, fighting against tyranny and global enslavement. But sometimes the enemy is not so clear. Sometimes the enemy is a little closer to home. I submit that today our greatest enemy is our own apathy.

The decision is ours. My issue is not about who you should vote for. That is not my business. My issue is whether you vote. And that is everyone’s business.

Melanie Omer

 

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