Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Soon, all city residents will be asked to vote on various ballot issues. I don't think that anyone cares about my recommendations, but I want to make one anyway.
It was deeply distressing that such a small number of citizens voted in the November elections, and a much smaller percentage voted in the August primaries.
In November, about 6,500 votes were cast for the various City Council positions and the city voters list showed about 14,500 registered voters. This means that about 45 percent of the eligible voters did so. (I wonder why someone bothers to register to vote and then doesn't.)
What's the reason for small turnouts? Who knows? It can be laziness or indifference, but in any case it essentially invalidates any complaining by those who don't vote. Worse, not voting gives implicit consent for whomever wins or whatever ballot measure wins or loses.
In some countries, voting is required of citizens. There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution about any requirements for being a citizen.
The word "citizen" appears when requirements for elected office are given, but there is no definition of the word in the Constitution. Only in the 14th Amendment is it declared that you can be a citizen by virtue of birth or naturalization, but no formal requirements appear. Of course, there are "rights" attached to being a citizen, but these can vary substantially. But, I can find no requirements. Doing nothing -- for example, not voting -- is OK and that seems to be the easy way for most of us to practice our citizenship.
Most voting in our county is now done by mail, so it can't be any easier.
Think about what you want, vote, and then participate a bit in the local government, committees, and "citizen" groups that exist around town. Become an "intentional" citizen instead of a "default" citizen.