As I hope you Americans are aware, yesterday was Election Day. I’m not here to talk about the results, which we’re all going to disagree on. I want to comment on voter turnout.
I go to the most politically active school, in Washington, DC. I have a very different experience about political activism and awareness. At my school, Tuesday evening events were canceled, and Election Parties were held in their place. Facebook was abuzz with last-minute campaigning and status updates about voting, candidates, and reactions to the returns. I don’t know anyone that didn’t vote. (Even my roommate, a DC resident, made it out to the polls when she had a sinus infection and voting in DC is practically pointless– we don’t get a vote in Congress, and our mayoral race was decided in the Democratic primary.)
Meanwhile, back home in New Jersey, a friend texted me that most of the people she talked to didn’t even know that it was Election Day. Hardly anyone bothered to vote, or request an absentee ballot as I did. AP reports average voter turnout to be about 42%– up from 2006’s midterm elections, but still rather pitiful. What’s disgusting are the sort of ads like this one, that encourage people to not vote.
The complaints about low voter turn-out and lack of civic responsibility aren’t new. Nothing I said is unique or different than what dozens of people are saying. But it is still something that bothers me, especially among my age group. Apathy is pointless. In addition to the great Craig Ferguson rant above from 2008 (which is worth watching the whole thing, though it gets good in the second half), watch this one, too. He makes some great points about how voting always matters (even though I joked earlier about how it doesn’t in DC).