Monday, June 11, 2012

Voters Not Showing UP

Latinos' influence is not being felt at the voting booth.
In the 2008 presidential election, when a record 10 million Latinos showed up at the polls nationwide, that amounted to just half of the eligible voters. By contrast, 66 percent of eligible whites and 65 percent of eligible blacks voted, according to a study by the Pew Hispanic Center.
Last week Raul Salinas expressed his discontent with the low turnout in Webb County.  But his plea to get more people to vote fell as flat as his staged outrage.  He urged us to vote for the men and women in uniform who fight for our right to vote; To vote because women in other countries aren't allowed to vote; And of course to vote because our children's future depends on it.  It's always about the children, isn't it?

Elections Administrator Oscar Villarreal commented that several factors lead to our poor showing for this year's primary election.  Apparently, redistricting was a major influence.  According to him, the legal battles that ensued from mapping out new boundaries for Texas left a lot of people wondering when the actual vote was to be held.  And when a date was finally announced, it came on the day after Memorial Day, and on the last week of school.  I offered up my own reason for not voting:  the lack of interest on my part, and some candidates' lack of participation in the process.

Being thrust into voting limbo because of redistricting matters makes sense.  But I don't want to make excuses for others.  The truth is we are not getting out to vote.  Part of the reason is just plain apathy; An apathy that stems from being uninformed about the true worth of our vote.  We're constantly reminded that we should vote because it's our civic duty, but our participation is never granted a personal connection.  We are asked to vote because it for somebody else's sake, but never for ours.  If we can't stake some kind of claim to our vote, then what's the point of heading out to the polls?  Tell me how my vote matters and then I'll go vote.  Don't guilt me into voting.  Instead, get all wonky on me and remind me how government works for us.  Only then, I think, can we have better numbers at the polls.

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