Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Where have all the voters gone?

There is an excellent editorial in the most recent issue of The Spotlight, which has weekly editions in Albany, Schenectady and Saratoga counties. The editorial notes that voter turnout in the Capital District is roughly 30 per cent, not too far from the average number of Catholics who attend weekly liturgies. We do not claim that there is any connection, but we believe that both numbers should be raised – significantly. As we have written previously, that is one of the goals of this blog, to get people more involved in their parishes and in their communities.

The Spotlight editorial notes:
It’s certainly no secret Americans are not voting as much as they used to. Whether that has to do with quality of politicians, our go-go lifestyle or too much television, we can’t honestly say, but we can say this is particularly bad in local election years like this one.

To use a handy example, in 2009 something like 60,000 people across Albany County headed to the polls to select their local leaders. That sounds pretty good until you consider the fact there were nearly 200,000 registered voters in the county at that time, for a voter turnout of around 30 percent.

(Oh, and by the way, right now there are about 60,000 county residents of voting age who evidently haven’t even bothered to register to vote. The numbers are similarly poor in other parts of the area.)
. . .
At the end of the day what your local government is doing may very well have a bigger impact on your day-to-day life. Local governments pave and plow roads, maintain sewer lines and police our communities. They also levy taxes, so on Election Day the people who vote are literally controlling who is behind part of that dreaded property tax bill.

That’s really the crux of this whole diatribe. Your vote keeps politicians honest and working for you (and they are often very well compensated, we should add), and it’s simply stunning so few people are willing to take five minutes to exercise that control.

The editorial concludes:
If you’re one of the unregistered residents of this county, it’s too late for this go around, but registering is easy. Simply visit online or call your board of elections and you can get them whole thing done by mail.

To those who are signed up: Go out there and be heard.
We could not agree more. Read the entire editorial here.

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