Civic participation is a key ingredient of a well-functioning democracy and voter turnout is one indicator of the public’s trust in government.
My parents carried me with them to vote before I had a driver’s license. When my boys moved away I always urged them to join a church and register to vote.
It’s that important to me. I hope it’s just as important to you.
This is the last two weeks before an election and let me assure you, this is the moment things get squirrelly in both local and national politics.
I hope we have good voter turnout Nov. 3 and can settle all this. But there’s evidence to suggest a growing lack of political engagement among Americans.
Presidential elections tend to get citizens more energized than midterms. In 2016, a record 137.5 million Americans voted. Unfortunately, that number is only 61.4-percent of the voting-age population.
The numbers are worse for midterms. In 2014 only 36.4-percent of all eligible voters in America voted.
Among developed nations, America is ranked 26 of 32 when it comes to voter turnout.
Large proportions of the public fail even simple knowledge tests such as knowing where they vote and even what races and which candidates are on the ballot.
I look at tons of data when I start shaping a column and a recent scan turned up WalletHub.
It’s a website that asks experts from across the country to weigh in on the numbers. It’s a data base that collects studies and statistics from every state in America and boils it down to facts and figures this country boy can understand.
The first fact is Mississippi is one of the least politically engaged states in the Union.
We ranked sixth from the bottom and the numbers broke down as follows:
31st – In the percentage of electorate who voted in 2014 midterm elections.
50th – In the change in percent who actually voted in 2016 vs. 2012 elections.
47th – In total political contributions per adult population.
50th – In voter accessibility policies.
Those same numbers did show that we were seventh in the number of people politically engaged over age 65 with 77-percent of those golden-agers voting. Numbers for those age 18 to 24 weren’t so good with only 46.7 – less than half – voting.
Will you vote?
There is a story on Page One of your Clarksdale Press Register about the uniqueness of this election cycle.
Yes, 2020 has been different. This election will be different.
I hope your candidate wins, but for somewhere less than 50-percent of the people living in this great country, that will not be the case.
We’ll see how America weathers the Presidential Election of 2020.
And we have city elections next summer.
I hope we can find qualified candidates willing to cast their hat in the ring next spring. Too often political machines and voting habits push the same people back into office year after year.
And then we complain because nothing seems to ever change.
I once heard it said people get the government they deserve.
I think my family, my community and my country deserve the very best.
Floyd Ingram is the Editor of your Clarksdale Press Register. Email him your views on your city, county, state and country at firstname.lastname@example.org.