Archive for Thursday, October 31, 2002

Regular voters should encourage others to join them

October 31, 2002

It is probably a waste of time and ink to write an editorial urging voter turnout. After all, those disinclined to go to the polls are not likely to read editorial pages.

Although countries like Greece, Italy and Iceland rack up voter participation numbers of nearly 90 percent, turnout in the United States barely tops 50 percent in presidential elections. General election turnout was 50.3 percent in 2000. Kansas was among the top-10 states in voter turnout in that election, but it still registered a pitiful 54.3 percent. This in an election that proved to be as close as predicted and which saw the presidency decided by a margin that didn't equal the population of our community.

We Americans make much of our freedoms and are proud of our place in the democratic tradition. But too many of us are failing at our most fundamental responsibility. It is a failure that allows winning candidates to ignore the will of the majority and focus on narrow or special interests.

Personal persuasion may succeed where editorials fail. We challenge regular voters to do their best to get at least one non-practicing voter to the polls. We promise the novice voter will have a pleasant, if sobering, experience. The atmosphere at a polling site is special as voters join a community of citizens that stretches more than two centuries. In the post 9/11 world, it is the most patriotic act we can undertake.

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