Get Out the Vote: Gerrymander got you locked up? Or will you go vote?

This entry is part 1 of 10 in the series Get Out the Vote
Original 1812 Gerrymander

BICENTENNIAL CREATURE: Did you know that gerrymandering was named in 1812? This election strategy is nearly as old as the United States itself, although no one held a bicentennial parade for this strange creature in 2012. Click on this original newspaper cartoon to read more of the history at Wikipedia.

NOTE FROM DR. WAYNE BAKER: This week, welcome back contributing columnist Terry Gallagher!

Primary elections are being held across the country this week, but who cares?

With widespread gerrymandering that guarantees one-party rule in many districts, primary elections are more important than ever when selecting our representatives.

So why do so few voters show up? According to a headline in the Washington Post a few weeks ago, “Voter turnout in primary elections this year has been abysmal.”

The Post reported, “Overall, voter turnout among the 25 states that have held primaries is down 18 percent from the 2010 election. There were almost 123 million age-eligible voters in these primary states, but only about 18 million of them voted.”

In 2010, the New York Times’ redoubtable FiveThirtyEight analytic column reported that participation in primary elections has declined steadily since 1966, especially among Democrats. One significant factor is that in many states, primary voters are required to register by party and fewer voters are willing to identify with one party or the other.

It’s not just the primaries, though: turnout in general elections has been declining for decades, too.

“During this same period, other forms of political participation have also declined, such as voluntary participation in political parties and the attendance of observers at town meetings,” according to Wikipedia.

The Our Values research has shown that an American core value is our embrace of freedom, usually taken to mean the right to participate in politics and elections.

So why don’t we get out and vote?

How about you? What will you do this week?

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS THIS SUMMER: Terry Gallagher will write one more OurValues series this summer. He also is working on a book-length collection of his reflections on American culture and values. In recent years, he has written about a wide range of topics: baseball, generosity, friendship, death, the Catholic church and home-made soup. You can read more than 100 of his past columns by clicking on this link. Email us at [email protected] with suggestions for Terry. And Please, we always invite you to comment (below) or to share this column on Facebook (use the blue-“f” icons).