Wednesday, November 9, 2011
The Vote Is In
A citizen of America will cross the ocean to fight for democracy, but won't cross the street to vote in a national election. - Bill Vaughan
Much is being made in the media about the pending race for the Presidency of the United States. While being the leader of one of the largest countries in the free world and a super power one at that is a glamorous position, the real workers in this great nation; those that impact the everyday lives of each of us; are our city or town councils. Yet the candidates for these positions receive very little media coverage in the days leading up to the municipal election.
In my little corner of the world, communities are facing very hard choices. Revenues from development and sales tax are not keeping up with costs to maintain city infrastructure, services and programs. Incoming council members will need to make hard decisions on further cuts or increasing taxes. I was saddened to learn that overall average voter turnout for the election on November 8th was less than 20%. In some municipal elections here voter turnout was approximately 10%. And it needs to be noted that this it not 10% of eligible voters, this is only 10% of those that registered to vote. Even local communities that voting is done by mail, only 70% of ballots were returned.
Many of the comments I heard regarding the choice not to vote showed the apathy of most. Comments such as "I didn't vote because I didn't know the issues or I didn't know the candidates" were most troubling to me because they show a lack of accepting the role each of us have as a citizen of the United States. It is our responsibility to learn what the issues are and to determine who will best represent our opinion on those issues.
Many brave men and women have fought for our right to have self-determination and not be ruled by the will of another. I was raised to know that I was blessed to be able to live in the greatest nation on earth, but where much is given much is expected and it was my duty as a citizen to be educated and to serve my community as I was able. Many of my early years were spent campaigning for my father as he ran for elected office. Many nights he was away from home as he served on the Planning Commission or Board of Adjustment. Just as he offered tithes of money to his church, he offered tithes of time to his community. I have tried to live this principal and to instill it in my children.
I am grateful that I live in a community that did better than the average. 22% of the registered voters in La Verkin made it to the polls this week. I am sure that issues in the community helped fuel that turnout, but I genuinely believe the citizens here do care. Unfortunately, 22% falls far short of 100.
Another election is on the horizon. Voter turnout for that election will be higher because it is the glamorous presidential election, but there will still be county and state races on the ballot along with a few referendums I am sure. My wish is that as Americans, we will step up and fulfill our role as citizens. We have a year to become educated in our choices and to prepare to cast our ballot. Then we need to SHOW UP!!! And not just next year, but the year after and the year after and then the next......... There is much written about the write to vote, but it is also a responsibility each of hold.