On March 11, Go Out And VOTE
Eleven percent of registered voters participated in the 2012 Boca Raton Municipal election, according to Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher. And in the previous year, even fewer voters – a staggering 7 percent – elected the current mayor, Susan Whelchel.
Some may say that the reason for the low turnout rate is “too little free time.” Studies have shown that even weather conditions are reported as being an obstacle on Election Day. We are more caught up in a digital world than ever before, but it has become increasingly challenging to filter out resourceful information from all the noise that one encounters in a day. People have countless amount of information available at their fingertips but at the same time, less educated decisions about public policy are being made.
Rather than learning how to be inquisitive and engaged in the public sphere, the younger generation is too caught up in deciding which filter their Instagram photo should have, and how many followers they have on Twitter. None of this is actually going to make an impactful difference within society. People have altered their free hours spent reading books and enjoying others’ company, to scrolling past their Facebook timeline. Priorities have become inverted and citizens seem to be more interested in the impact of their Facebook status, rather than the impact they can cause with their vote.
It is no surprise that the number of voters showing up to the polls on Election Day in Boca Raton, and the rest of the United States, is still deficient. Home entertainment devices and social media have caused a lack of community that is needed in order to have a balanced democratic society. We may live in a democracy, but if less than 10 percent of the population votes in municipal elections, are we truly getting a democratic result?
Most politicians would be happy with this low number because they would strictly focus on the 10 percent that are actually voting, which in turn lowers their campaign costs and raises their chances of winning. The candidates focus on those particular groups of people and bombard them with political messages— rather than appealing to the entire community. It is a vicious cycle that will continue to repeat itself as long as we continue to make the decision to not participate.
Increased geographic mobility and instantaneous global news could also be a cause of low voter turnouts. Perhaps the ability to pick up your belongings and move to another city is so obtainable that many find themselves not contributing to their current community because they can see themselves in another area. Some districts have restrictions for residents who may have recently arrived that does not allow for them to participate in the voting process. People are consumed by the most current news happening around the world but not about the issues that are happening in their very own backyard.
Maybe people are just not being informed about the elections. Some of them, especially the young adults, can be intimidated by the bureaucracy and voting routine. Increasing the awareness of each vote’s importance can encourage voters to feel more confident and prepared in making their decisions.
In many democracies around the world, elections take place over the weekend. In the United States, by law, elections are held on the Tuesday after the first Monday of the month. Many can relate in having trouble getting to the polls because they may have work or class to attend, then have other duties immediately following their already hectic and stressed filled day.
In countries such as Brazil, Argentina and Greece, voting is demanded of their citizens. Brazil even requires its abroad citizens to vote at the nearest Consulate. Since citizens may not be knowledgeable on contemporary topics and cause a sway in the integrity of the vote, rather than making voting mandatory, the level of civic awareness in our society needs to become a priority. The average American must feel more comfortable to engage and participate in the public sphere.
Citizens of the United States of America have fought very hard for their right to vote. We have overcome racial and gender discrimination: all to have 10 percent of registered voters decide what happens for the rest of the population. If you do not vote, do not complain. The people who show up determine every election. Abraham Lincoln said it best, “Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”
The Boca Raton Municipal election will be on Tuesday, March 11. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Several polling stations will be located around the city.
For more information, visit www.ci.boca-raton.fl.us under the ‘2014 Municipal Elections’ tab. Become educated and help make a difference within our home.