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Monday, August 16, 2010

FROM WALLINGFORD - People had other things to do

As Published in the Record Journal – Sunday August 15, 2010

Jason Zandri


So the Primary race has ended. All the money that was spent by candidates seems to have been wasted on an electorate that basically had other things to do than show up and vote.

In Thursday’s Record Journal there was a cartoon depicting an excited TV viewer watching American Idol while clicking away on a phone (presumably to vote for a contestant). The next panel showed the same viewer snoozing in front of the television that was illustrating election information.

Unofficial voter statistics published showed that 2,969 voters came out and cast their vote for the office of Governor in Wallingford. That is the combined totals for the Republicans and the Democrats. The numbers were even lower for other races.

As of 2008, there were nearly 26,000 registered voters in Wallingford. If that number is still correct (or at least close) then the 2,969 voters represent an 11.4 percent turnout.

To be fair, a 26,000 registered voter total includes unaffiliated voters who cannot vote in the primary but despite that fact, the turnout is what I perceive to be unacceptably low for a free democracy. In other countries where the threat of physical harm up to and including death is often realized upon the electorate, the numbers of those that turn out are higher there than what we see here in America on a regular basis.

The primary on Tuesday was to select which people, from those that were nominated and from those that had enough support to force the primary, would be on the ballot for this upcoming November election.

Wallingford’s turnout was very low but they had plenty of company; most towns were in the same area percentagewise.

Secretary of the State Bysiewicz reported an average statewide turnout of about 20 percent around 5 pm on primary day as reported in the Hartford Courant.

Many will give myriad reasons why they “couldn’t” vote. Often it has to do with not having the spare time. These are the same people that leave the line in the coffee shop and head out to go wait an hour in line for fast food. They’ll complain about how bad the economy is too but you’ll see them daily in line buying food and coffee that could be prepared at home for much cheaper. But I digress.
Some will give you the argument of “there was no one running that I liked or cared for enough to be bothered to go.”

Who would you have then? Name me someone you think should have been running and then let’s you and me go and have a conversation with them and see if we can encourage them to run at some future date.

Someone has to run the town/state/country — if not these candidates then who?

If you are not going to help choose them by showing up to vote then the same minority of people that ARE turning out will keep putting THEIR favorites into office.

You don’t get to pick your boss (in most cases) and that person directly affects your ability to make a living. You can’t choose your family either (and that may be a plus or a minus).

What you do have the ability to do is vote your choices for who you want to govern you.

Why the majority chooses not to, year after year, election after election is a mystery to me.

I wonder: if the privilege to vote were to be forever revoked for three occurrences of non participation if it would change attitudes and the apparent lack of participation?

Unfortunately, you can’t claim to be a free society and attempt to compel citizens to vote.

Still, it’s a shame that the will of the electorate from the majority standpoint always seems to be one of non participation and no confidence.

If this were the attitude in 1776 we’d still be an English Colony today.

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