Sedona AZ (July 24, 2012) - The 26th Amendment of the Constitution states “The rights of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged…” but yet we continue to see dismal actual voter turnouts.
Since the mid 1960′s, voter turnout across all ages, with a few exceptions, has been declining. The United States has on average the lowest voter turnout in the world (among mature democracies) by an average of 10 to 15 percent. Voter apathy is creeping up slowly. Some call it Political Depression and it begs the questions: If people don’t participate, at what point does a democracy cease to be democratic?
As a first-time City Council member, I want to thank those who voted for me — all 1,864 of you. Out of 2,977 residents, 62.6% voted to elect me to serve on the Council. Once again, thank you; but this article is addressed to the 3,371 registered voters who did not vote for anyone.
Interesting fact about voter age demographics in the recent general election (total US): about 17% of eligible voters between the ages of 18 – 25 ended up voting, and everyone thought they would be the game changers. Eligible voters between the ages of 26 – 49, only 55% turned out to vote, but the matured individuals over the age of 50 equated to almost 70%.
In politics, voter apathy is a term used to describe a perceived lack of caring among voters in an election. Voter apathy is often cited as a cause of low turnout among eligible voters. Or, many people are just lazy when it comes to voting so they usually just pick the first candidates they see on the ballot just to get it over with. Farther down the ballot, the fewer the number of votes will be cast. To quote the Sedona Red Rock News, “An uniformed voter aimlessly checking boxes is much more dangerous than a resident electing to leave a section blank because he or she isn’t familiar with the issue”.
There is a phrase in the Preamble of the United States Constitution that says “and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America“. Many heroic Americans gave their lives defending the basic right of voting and the democratic process, which the Preamble declared as a God given right.
Here are the staggering results of the lives loss to maintain our democratic process: American Revolutionary War 8,000, American Civil War 212,938, World War I 53,402, World War II 291,557, Korean War 33,746, and the Vietnam War 47,355. We now know that the belief of freedom and the right to choose their leaders is being embraced by countries all over the world.
The Arizona We Want and the AZ Civic Health Index has reported that Arizona ranks in the “bottom 10” of every aspect of voter participation – being informed, registration and turnout. That is why May was Voter Registration month and the League of Women Voters and a team of dedicated volunteers were training members all over the Verde Valley to help with the Justice Sandra Day O’Conner House Centennial Voter Engagement Project in the Verde Valley.
Let’s continue with the education and challenge to our citizens. Let’s join together and strive to stimulate an informed and engaged electorate, to create more awareness of the importance of voting, to provide easy access to fact- based information, and to get people to the polls in record numbers regardless of party or views.
Simply put, let’s challenge Sedonaians to believe in the democratic process and demonstrate their civic responsibility by informed and involved voting. Let’s strive to move Arizona from the bottom 10 states in voter participation and civic engagement to the top 10.
To quote Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Not voting, not participating in the democratic process in your community, and not being informed is tantamount to “doing nothing.” Let’s change the statistics in Sedona. Let’s take the challenge to participate – to vote – to contribute in a positive way in our community, and let’s work together to make Sedona proud.
If you don’t vote, you can’t gripe. Keep in mind: If you are not part of the solution, maybe you are part of the problem.