The Constitution of the United States allows citizens who are 18 years of age or older the right to vote.
Technically the Constitution states that voting rights cannot be denied on the basis of race or gender discrimination, but let’s just cut the semantics and agree that by the time we graduate high school we all have the privilege of voting for the leaders of our country.
That’s not to say that everyone takes advantage of this inalienable right (Unalienable – adjective; not applicable to beings from other planets). For example, less than 55 percent of all registered voters cast ballots in the last presidential election. In other words, more than 100 million people who had a voice in the future of our country chose not to. For reasons known only unto themselves…
It’s a shame, really.
Staying away from the polls is a kick in the gut for those who fought so hard to ensure all of us – man, woman, black, white and everything in between – had a voice that should and would be heard. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’d be feeling so well after 100 million shots to the stomach.
I’ve been voting for many, many years. In fact, my voting record dates all the way back to sixth grade when I was nominated for class president. I ran against two other candidates – both immensely more popular than me – and as you can imagine I didn’t fare so well in what amounted to nothing more than a popularity contest that was ultimately won by the prettiest girl in class.
There are all kinds of theories about why people don’t vote. Registering to vote is too complicated. Voters don’t have enough information to make an educated decision. There isn’t a candidate worthy of my vote. Voters don’t think their vote matters.
But the most viable explanation may simply be this: Apathy. Some people simply don’t care about politics. Besides, they’ll argue that very rarely has a single vote changed the outcome of an election, and when that does happen it’s usually in a small, local election. (Tell that to De Alva S. Alexander, who lost his seat in the House of Representatives in 1910 by a single vote, 20,685 to 20,684 to Charles B. Smith.)
I voted in the last presidential election at the District Courthouse in Haralson, Georgia (population 187). I was in and out in a matter of three minutes, and that included the walk to and from my car parked right outside the front door. Three willing volunteers were more than happy to make sure I had a pleasant voting experience. Truth be known, I think they were just happy to see me.
I was the only voter in the building at that time.
I ordinarily stay away from talking about politics, but this is different. I encourage you to become a registered voter. I encourage you to gather enough information about the issues and candidates to make an educated decision. I encourage you to care. Most of all, I encourage you to vote.
Don’t be a Laban King. In case you don’t already know, Laban King was a candidate for mayor of Atlanta in the last election. His goal was “to make this great city the birthplace of the New American Dream.” There were almost 97,000 votes cast amongst the 12 candidates running for mayor.
Not one was for Laban King, so either he didn’t vote or didn’t deem himself worthy of one.
As unpopular as I was in sixth grade, I know for a fact there was at least one vote cast for me.
Scott Ludwig lives, runs and writes in Senoia with his wife Cindy, three cats and never enough visits from his grandson, Krischan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .