Our View: Dishonoring the vote

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It was a hotly contested election.

You had both political sides accusing each other of corruption, and there was a dispute about electoral votes and who really won. In the end, the U.S. Congress had to investigate.

No, it wasn't the 2000 election.

It was the 1876 battle for president, in which Samuel J. Tilden was defeated by Rutherford Hayes.

So, one could argue not much has changed in 100-plus years.

That is, other than the percentage of people who actually vote.

The 1876 campaign had the highest percentage of voters in a presidential election, at 81.8 percent. In 2000, it was considered a great feat to have 60 percent of the voters doing their best to not leave a hanging chad.

The truth is voter turnout is simply not the same, and has not been for a century.

From 1840 to 1900, the lowest voter turnout percentage was 71.3 percent. Conversely, five presidential elections since then have had 50 percent voter turnout or less, and many of those elections have fallen in the 50 to 60 percent range - elections that historically have the highest turnout.

But that is only part of the story.

After our nation's birth, voting was mostly left to the privileged.

You had to be white.

You had to be male.

You had to be a property owner.

History is littered with long fights for people to gain the right vote, and women and minorities included.

Which brings us to the other part of the story: Given that history, it is disheartening how few people take advantage of that right.

We need to look no further than the area's most recent election. Less than 40 percent of the people voted in November's off-year election.

And that was considered good.

Considering that a measly 13 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the City Council race in April, perhaps they were right, but they are right in comparison only.

How we view elections must change.

First, deal with the obvious. More people vote in November elections and during general elections (or even-year November elections) than in coordinated elections.

Why?

The same reason Christmas is in December and Thanksgiving is in November - because people have been taught that it is the time that matters.

To have the City Council election in April - when voter turnout is 35 to 50 percent lower than in November elections - is simply absurd. No benefit the councilors might gain with early elections outweighs the greater voice of the community.

And that goes for all non-November elections in which boards and major tax questions are decided.

Secondly, each us have to look in the mirror. Did you vote? If not, why not? People have literally died to give you that right.

In the end, you're only as free as you fight for; in this day and age, the vote is your tool to fight.

Others have fought their fight to give you that right.

Now it's your turn to honor their work.

Comments

jraehal 7 years, 1 month ago

This is a corrected version of the original editorial that appeared in the paper, in which the winner of the 1876 election was misidentified.

Jerry Raehal Craig Daily Press editor

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PJ Howe 7 years, 1 month ago

First, there are no rights in the US Constitution giving the public the right to vote in FEDERAL elections.

Second, not everyone should be allowed to vote, whether in a local election or any other election. A huge majority of the voters of this country never read the issue, learn what the position of candidates are or in many cases even know who or what the candidates/issues are until they're sitting there with pen in hand. The worst voters out there tow their party line. Those willing to vote a straight ticket for one party or another, regardless of the consequences of those votes, should never be allowed to vote.

Voting rights should be limited to those that fund the particular government or ballot issue. If it is a ballot issue that will raise property taxes in a district or town/city, then property owners should be the only people voting on it. National elections should be decided by the 50% of wage earners that pay federal income tax, not the other 50% who receive ever increasing welfare.

We are quickly become a socialist society with too much power (one person-one vote) being given to those who receive the benefits of others' hard work (income tax payers). Socialism does not work, unless you think 50% income taxes, 14% unemployment and 6 month waits for MRI scans is "working".

Yes, the election process must change, but for the better, not by merely getting more uneducted (in the issues/candidates), party towing voters to the booth.

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grannyrett 7 years, 1 month ago

EXCUSE ME However! The fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution of the United States of America-Section 1-that was passed by Congress on Feb. 26, 1869 and ratified on Feb. 3, 1870 states: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

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grannyrett 7 years, 1 month ago

I have never understood why people don't vote, unless they feel that the outcome doesn't effect them. Sometimes it seems as if we are just voting for the lesser of two evils. Often it seems that nothing will change. As politicians promise more and more, we believe less and less. A president can not do much if the congress and senate will not work with him, so no matter what he promises-it won't happen unless all branches of government will work together. Sometimes it seems as if politicians forget that they do not work for the party-they work for the people. Results are not to be for the good of the party, but for the good of the nation. They are to work for us-not lobby groups and special interests. Who knows what the answer is? If things don't change, I fear that voter apithy will only grow. How to change it? I don't know.

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rhammel 7 years, 1 month ago

Jerry,

It takes a contraversial issue to draw the voters. Probably have but to voting days per year; first Tuesday in February (or whenever the State primary ends up) and the first Tuesday in November. All of the issues can be voted on those two days. Mid year voing is hard to remember, so for that reason, we see a low voter turnout.

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CindyLou 7 years, 1 month ago

The laws that govern random sampling states that it doesn't matter if 100% of the population votes or only 3% votes, the outcome will be the same. That is why exit poles can randomly sample just a couple hundred voters coming out of the voting booth and they can predict the election 95% of the time. Australia thought mandatory voting would solve their problems. Turns out it really didn't matter - the outcome was still the same.

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