NOTE FROM DR. WAYNE BAKER: Contributing columnist Terry Gallagher is exploring the values Americans place on voting. This is his fourth column …
The people have spoken.
At least some of them have.
This week, while primary elections were held across the country, we’ve been looking at how Americans vote and what it says about the value we place on our freedom to participate in the political process.
From the numbers, you might conclude that most Americans don’t think voting is all that important.
In Michigan, where I vote, more than 80 percent of the eligible voters didn’t cast a ballot this week. That’s not an all-time low, but still pretty dismal, especially when it’s likely that the primary winners will be shoo-ins in the November general election.
Political scientists have a number of theories about low turnout, and the possible reasons are all over the map: some people don’t vote because they believe that all politics is evil, while others don’t vote because they’re happy with the government we have now.
But one major reason that people don’t vote is because they believe it doesn’t matter, that their vote won’t change anything.
In fact, I thought that back when I was a teenage smart-aleck know-it-all. I thought that until I tried it out on the principal of my high school.
I told him that it didn’t really matter how I voted, that elections are rarely decided by a single vote anyhow.
“It matters to you,” he pointed out.
And now I think of that every time I walk into the polling place.
Why vote? Because it matters to you.
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