BY DAVID PERRYMAN
There has been much ado about low voter turnout in recent years. Whether we take the position that we live in a “Republic” in which “supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and exercised by elected representatives responsible to them and governing according to law” or a “Democracy” in which “supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or their elected representatives under a free electoral system,” neither is healthy when fewer than one-third of all eligible citizens bother to cast a ballot.
However, is low voter turnout the problem or is it merely the symptom of much greater problems? Visiting with constituents, it appears that low voter turnout is often based on more than a lack of interest in the election.
For instance, over the past several days, I have heard from registered voters who may not vote because they fear that they could be voting for the wrong presidential candidate or the wrong way on a state question and that their vote might be the vote that causes the election to go the wrong way.
Ironically, while those voters are afraid that their vote will count, many more stay home because they believe that their vote will not count.
There are also many citizens who are intimidated by the system. They are confused about how to register or whether they are qualified to register and if they are registered, they are confused about whether their name is still on the voter rolls. When they lack self-confidence, they let Election Day pass without casting a ballot instead of being told in front of others that they are not eligible to vote.
Of course, I frequently hear voters say they won’t be voting because they are dissatisfied with the presidential candidates. When we add to those the hundreds of thousands of Americans whose busy schedules with jobs and kids and the apprehension that the lines will be long, keep them away from the polls, voter turnout plummets.
The bottom line is: America, we can do better. But it will take work.
There is nothing wrong with our Constitution and there is nothing wrong with the power of the people to cast ballots.
To fix America’s system, we have to remember that elections are our country’s alternative to revolution and, while we do not engage in bloodshed, change is only accomplished by active participation by all who are affected.
Americans must focus on reversing two things that have morphed our election system into what we have today.
First, we have to reverse the laws and court rulings that have given corporations “personhood” and “freedom of speech.”
Second, we have to reform campaign finance laws that allow unlimited amounts of “dark money” to influence elections through negativity and propaganda.
This election cycle is ending. It should be your goal to educate yourself and your children about the United States Supreme Court case of “Citizens United.” You must start tonight. Otherwise, it will be the downfall of our country. Uninformed voters reward negativity and propaganda.
America, we can do better. We must do better for the future of our country.
Instead of standing in line to vote on Nov. 8, you may vote in person at your County Election Board office on Nov. 3, 4 and 5.
– David Perryman, a Chickasha Democrat, represents District 56 in the Oklahoma House