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Thursday, March 29, 2012
During the first five days of early voting, nearly 60-thousand Marylanders cast their ballots. That works out to just under 2 percent of eligible voters. WYPR Senior News Analyst Fraser Smith says with that turnout, maybe it shouldn't be called "early voting" but "early non-voting." Fraser comments in his weekly essay.
Anti-war protestors asked during the Vietnam era: “What if they gave a war and nobody came?”
We wouldn’t have a war of course.
We would have something like peace.
But what if they gave an election and nobody came? Would we have a democracy?
Elections are where the people choose leaders, approve or reject policies, demand different directions, hold leaders accountable, and offer a verdict on a war or wars.
Right now, though, even as people around the world demonstrate and die for some thing like democracy, small “d” democrats (which includes Republicans) are staying away from the polls in this country.
Not voting is, in a sense, a vote of another kind. Except among those who think some people really shouldn’t vote, the low turnout issue is a major calamity. Do we still care about government “by the people”?
Have we internalized the Ronald Reagan thing about government being the problem, not the solution?
Have people dropped out rather than be part of a democracy devalued by rancor and ideology that leaves no room for compromise?
You don’t hear much about reviving interest in voting. You hear more about stamping out voter fraud – as if there was any fraud.
Does anyone care enough to commit fraud?
We should really be thinking about this: It may be that, after a while – after the struggle to secure the vote – not voting became a problem.
So it’s not a new thing. This is why there was so-called “walking around money,” the few dollars handed out by candidates to the faithful who were charged with reminding the rest of the faithful of their democratic duty.
What ever happened to the faithful anyway? Finally, it would help if the smart money geniuses stopped messing with the primary dates.
There was a time when you knew when the primaries were held. Elections were seasonal like spring and fall.
I’m guessing people don’t know they’re supposed to vote April 3.
So, we’re probably headed for another election where relatively nobody came.
That was a commentary by WYPR’s Senior News Analyst Fraser Smith. Your comments are invited at email@example.com.
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