An infographic in The Economist recently demonstrated the amazing, mind-blowing, I-can’t-believe-they-shape-democracy-like-this, impact of nonvoters. (A cartoon by Nick Anderson of the Houston Chronicle sums things up nicely too.)
As The Economist points out, “the apathetic far outstripped the enthusiastic” in most of the primary elections leading up to Indiana’s May 3 primary.
Basically, more of us don’t vote than do.
And that, my fellow Hoosiers, is not only a big problem for America, but especially for us in Indiana.
You see, as the 2015 Civic Health Index points out, Hoosiers were dead last in the nation in voter turnout during the 2014 General Election. In case you are wondering, the stats on voter turnout for local municipal elections and primary elections are just as depressing.
This means Hoosier voices and values are not being fully represented in the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, Indiana General Assembly, City-County Council, Township Boards, school boards, and other city, county, and state offices.
You’ll notice I didn’t mention the White House. The office of POTUS is important, but it’s not the only office we vote for and, I would argue, not the elected position that most directly makes on impact on our lives. The President does not decide how schools are locally funded, which roads are paved, which neighborhoods receive services first, or if local communities can ban plastic bags. State and local officials do.
Please, if you are reading this and it’s before 6p.m. and you haven’t voted yet today, go and vote. Visit indy.gov/vip to verify your voter registration status, polling location, and to download a sample partisan ballot.
Yep, a partisan ballot.
Indiana has a closed primary system and you are required to vote either a Democratic or Republican ballot. Not keen on that? Hey, after you vote, go back to that website, look up your state Senator and Representative in the Indiana General Assembly and tell them so. (Or, if you love the system, tell them that instead.)
Voting is important and every eligible citizen should vote as part of their civic responsibility. But that’s just one part (the minimum requirement, really) of being civically engaged. You can—and should—contact your elected officials throughout the year and respectfully share your concerns.
Democracy is not spectator sport.