That in mind, the other day we Googled reasons why people don’t vote. With early voting for the May 6 elections now completed, we are only two days away from the conventional Election Day. On Tuesday, Bradley County voters will cast ballots in Republican and Democratic primaries for their candidates of choice in an array of local elections.
On this day, any time between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., registered voters will visit their respective polling places and await the results in tabulations conducted by the Bradley County Election Commission.
It’s a time-tested process whose roots date back to the launch of democracy.
It’s a right, and a privilege, that defines America.
Yet, many Americans don’t — or won’t — take the opportunity. We wondered why. So we Googled. Websites exploded before our very eyes, most claiming to offer the latest — and the most accurate — available information.
Some based their intelligence on reliable surveys, plus or minus a few points.
Some shouldered their beliefs on the strength of political science professionals whose essays are the culmination of years of research and decades of history.
Some supported their suggestions with facts, figures and numbers as documented in news publications widely respected as the fairest, most objective and accurate sources of American mindset.
Some claimed their opinions are the work of respected analysts whose no-nonsense Jack Webb approach caters more to the “... just the facts, ma’am” ideology.
Some even opined their information to be the most trustworthy because it is based not only on American beliefs but on democracies in other corners of the world; therefore, it is based on the total human experience.
To borrow a popular cliche, “To each his own.”
Yet, in researching the research of others we essentially came away with a handful of most common reasons why a surprisingly large percentage of Americans don’t vote. Political scientists may flavor the terms with personal bias or sprinkle them with an ounce of interpretation all they want, but here are the commonalities we came across:
1. Apathy: Nonvoters just don’t give a fiddly-dee.
2. Cynicism: Nonvoters just don’t believe any one candidate is better than the other, not because of natural intelligence but because of misplaced priorities.
3. Time: Nonvoters just don’t feel they have the time to leave work to vote or to swing by their polling place before work, after work or during lunch ... because work comes first.
4. Frustration: Nonvoters just look to Washington, D.C., and view a Congress divided that they believe long ago lost the ability to compromise; they look to state capitals and see supermajorities whose partisanships dominate the decision-making process; and they look closer to home and view their own community leaders as good ol’ boy politicians.
5. Uncertainty: Nonvoters just don’t understand their own beliefs, whether their personal lean is to the conservative or liberal influence ... or somewhere in the vast in-between that they feel doesn’t have a future in today’s partisan practices anyway.
6. Unconvinced: Nonvoters just don’t believe their vote counts because the wrong guy seems to always win or even if the right guy wins his thinking is eventually polluted by more seasoned career politicians.
7. Lobbyist Influence: Nonvoters just don’t want a part of voting or the political process because they believe those with the most money, the biggest voices and the most powerful names will eventually win over people-elected government leaders.
8. Doomed: Nonvoters just see no future in ... life ... because they believe America is headed in the wrong direction with no way to derail the runaway train; in other words, it’s no longer worth saving.
In a nutshell, that’s pretty much it — eight common reasons found on various websites, each worded a little differently but carrying pretty much the same message.
It’s not a feel-good portrait of how Americans feel about the one-man, one-vote process.
We wish we could disagree. Sadly, we can’t. All probably tell a sad chapter in the book called “Nonvoting for Dummies.”
But it doesn’t have to be.
Perhaps we still view the life and times of mankind through rose-colored glasses. But we believe America is very much a nation worth saving.
Yet, here’s the catch. Only Americans can save it.
And that means taking an interest. Staking a claim. And doing the right thing.
For those who missed early voting, vote the old-fashioned way. Vote on Election Day. It doesn’t matter when. It doesn’t matter how. Just vote. Show America you care. Show Cleveland, show Nashville and show Washington that you want something a little better.
Change won’t come overnight.
But change will never come without taking a stride in the right direction.
Casting a ballot is the first step.