Pitiful at the polls

Citizens aren't getting out the vote -- they're just getting out

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One woman in New York had to admit to a television camera that she'd waited in the cold all night Thanksgiving to save about 30 bucks on Black Friday merchandise.

That inspires us to ask: If we'll do that to save 30 bucks, what lengths are we willing to go to in order to save the country?

With an out-of-control ruling class in Washington spending the country into near-collapse, it's likely that saving America will require more acts of citizenship than most of us have seen in our lifetimes.

In particular, it may require that we work for, and approve, amendments to the U.S. Constitution to limit both spending and congressional terms.

If so, will we be up to the challenge?

The signs aren't encouraging: While people waited in the cold or wriggled out of bed at 3 a.m. to save a few bucks the Friday after Thanksgiving, Americans are increasingly finding it difficult to lift a finger to perform the simplest acts of citizenship -- such as voting.

Georgia just had a runoff election Tuesday in which a little over 3 percent of voters participated.

Performing a little rudimentary math reveals that, therefore, 97 percent of registered voters stayed away.

That's just pathetic, especially for a country that fancies itself as the best around.

Richmond County Board of Elections Director Lynn Bailey says she couldn't find a lower turnout than Tuesday's 3.49 percent in records stretching back to the early 1990s.

The usual suspects have been rounded up: the holidays; the weather; an uninspiring ballot. But it remains that Americans seem perfectly willing to suffer all manner of weather and inconvenience to save a few bucks in the store -- just not to vote.

American civic life is simply withering. The question is, how long can a republic survive when a good share -- in this case, almost all -- of its citizens have checked out?

Tuesday's runoff was primarily to determine the winners in two judicial races left over from Nov. 2, one on the Georgia Supreme Court and the other on the state's Court of Appeals -- both of which issue very important rulings affecting all our lives and freedoms. We might add that some very distinguished legal careers are on the line in such elections.

It makes you wonder whether judicial races ought to be decided by popular vote, if people are so tuned out. At least when judges are appointed (to be voted on later by the electorate in retention votes), the people making the appointments seem to take the task seriously. The same cannot be said for the electorate.

At any rate, a 3.49 percent turnout is an absolute disgrace -- especially considering how many people around the world and in our own country's past have risked their lives or died for the right to vote. It's a right that women and blacks in the United States had to gain through decades of protest and even constitutional amendments.

It's a good thing this current crop of Americans wasn't asked to do it.

Comments (16) Add comment
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msitua
132
Points
msitua 12/02/10 - 11:23 pm
0
0
Maybe it's a low turn-out

Maybe it's a low turn-out because no matter who the winner turns out to be--the majority of politicians are the same---they don't listen to the constituents anyway.

Jon Lester
2480
Points
Jon Lester 12/03/10 - 02:43 am
0
0
Hey, I voted. Even though I
Unpublished

Hey, I voted. Even though I only had a voice in the state supreme court justice and state court of appeals judge, I took advantage of early voting. I vote because I get to, no matter how trivial the contest may seem.

Sandpiper
0
Points
Sandpiper 12/03/10 - 04:49 am
0
0
Primary vote, then the

Primary vote, then the primary runoff vote, then the election, then the runoff vote for an obscure seat on some obscure bench. I'd say a 3.49% turnout was pretty much to be expected. Some states and localities are using a voting method that allows the voter to pick their first, second and third choice for each office or post being sought. This prevents the expense and frustration of the runoff. It also gives the voter a little incentive to be better informed about people seeking election.

cubbie
0
Points
cubbie 12/03/10 - 05:00 am
0
0
People are tired and sick at

People are tired and sick at heart of the way Washington has handled business this last year or so. Like the first posting said, politicians just don't listen to the voters. People are scared. Some doing without food or medical care because they have " too much " social security or a little saveings, all according to a chart. A chart or a graph is not a person but whoever is voted in will view a person as just that. No matter what he says in order to get elected. THAT'S why people stay away from the poles. The President on down are out for one thing. Themselves . "We the people" are not able to stand up for ourselves and Washington won't. God help us all.

Riverman1
99647
Points
Riverman1 12/03/10 - 06:45 am
0
0
Have the county appropriate

Have the county appropriate funds for toasters for all who vote, plus give bigger prizes to every 100th voter such as an expense paid cruise. Make voting an experience like being in the audience of the Oprah show where everybody gets something. Allow candidates to have signs and pictures on the walls the way stores announce sales. Under a picture of Deke in his Ironman speedos have it saying: "Deke's Voters Win More Cruises."

The checkout register will be as the customers/voters are leaving and where they will have to have their voting receipts punched in order to receive gifts. Have the Marines out front in case anyone tries to make off with a present without voting. They can hold him down while Lynn Bailey makes him check off a candidate on an alternate ballot form on a clipboard.

Give tickets for microwaves for voters to redeem only at run-off elections.

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 12/03/10 - 07:29 am
0
0
riverman, it'll have to come

riverman, it'll have to come to that. either that or give free chik-fila. everybody loves chik-fila. talk about a benevolent government.. some places FINE you if you don't vote!

dani
13
Points
dani 12/03/10 - 08:17 am
0
0
I vote and then I later see

I vote and then I later see the results and wonder if I should bother.
Empty promises and the then same thing all over again.
Can we find better candidates maybe?

Junket831
0
Points
Junket831 12/03/10 - 08:36 am
0
0
Let's put blame where it

Let's put blame where it belongs. First the AC did a horrible job of not only reminding voters about the runoff, but virtually did nothing to review the candidates remaining and the importance of the choices.

Secondly, the State of Georgia and other states that require runoffs should eliminate this system immediately. It is incredibly costly to the tax payer and distorts the original election results with a much smaller turnout.

Most "elected" offices should be appointed by the governor and
confirmed by the legislature. The number of offices that are constitutionally elected offices is ridiculous. Therefore, it is time to amend the constitution. If we are trying to make government more accountable and affordable, then stop these nuisance elections. They are an absolute waste of taxpayer money.

dani
13
Points
dani 12/03/10 - 08:46 am
0
0
Junket..I don't know about

Junket..I don't know about placing blame, but I do know that many folks were not aware of the run-off. It is a busy season and folks are distracted.

Hatfield0278
1
Points
Hatfield0278 12/03/10 - 10:15 am
0
0
So everyone at ACES voted?

So everyone at ACES voted?

dani
13
Points
dani 12/03/10 - 11:20 am
0
0
Hey. I actually know one of

Hey. I actually know one of the people who voted. He called me the night before to ask my advice. That ought to tell you something :-)

gaspringwater
3
Points
gaspringwater 12/03/10 - 12:52 pm
0
0
The Georgia legislature goes

The Georgia legislature goes to great effort to make voting inconvenient. And they're getting good results too! Soon nobody but the good ol' boys will bother and that's the end game!

dani
13
Points
dani 12/03/10 - 01:07 pm
0
0
Change voting back to one day

Change voting back to one day only from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM and save the taxpayers money. All these odd days and times are not necessary. We did fine without them for years.

ameliaf
0
Points
ameliaf 12/03/10 - 03:11 pm
0
0
Voting on judges isn't

Voting on judges isn't exciting. No comparisons of background, skills, experience on which to base a decision. Once we vote on them we don't really get any information on how they perform, comparing one judge to another. It is just an opportunity for us to listen to more empty promises or to hear every single one of them declare how he/she is a conservative.

A couple of years ago, I made a spreadsheet of all the judge races we could vote on. I went to the campaign web sites, got info on education, experience, honors, what judicial boards they served on, who endorsed that person, anything that would help decide who really had a better background. Spent hours on it. Sent it to all my relatives - none of whom had the foggiest idea who was running and had simply planned to skip that part of the ballot. They thanked me and I think they really did vote that time.

So, Augusta Chronicle. If you want people to take an interest, do that spreadsheet for us. Let us have comparative information. There was a great story not so long ago in which someone at your fine paper pulled together a data base of cases which would allow some idea of how a judge was handling cases brought to his court. Create that kind of data on candidates for judicial positions. When the paper endorses a candidate I give it about as much attention as I would any other person walking down the street. Without some sort of data to back your endorsement, it is just as political as the next one, and as unfounded as the judgement my siblings used to make on these races.

orgpsych
0
Points
orgpsych 12/03/10 - 03:53 pm
0
0
Ruling class in Washington?

Ruling class in Washington? Really? Sounds somewhat contrived to me.

Was that 3.49% of ALL registered voters or 3.49% of registered voters that could vote on in that particular election? Context makes all the difference.

gaspringwater
3
Points
gaspringwater 12/03/10 - 04:21 pm
0
0
Voter turnout to elect judges

Voter turnout to elect judges is usually light because the candidates don't have big campaign pot donated by lobbyist and the judges themselves are rather plain Jane characters, no sex scandals, no strippers ( usually ) and no fraud, felony or dope convictions. But electing judges is far more important than electing legislatures. The front line of freedom in this country is in the courtrooms and not in the legislative halls or governor's mansions.

Cadence
219
Points
Cadence 12/04/10 - 01:55 am
0
0
I get so disgusted with

I get so disgusted with people who can't be bothered to vote. If people are dissatisfied with how the country is run, they need to vote. If they are unaware of the candidates and their platforms, they need to find out what they are. Dani, I always agree with you except :) I appreciate the early voting. Between working and schooling and life, it often does make it easier for me to go on a different day than the one election day. Both my candidates won for judgeships, by the way, and I think they will both do a good job.

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