Like it, hate it… VOTE


We start with a chart (because I know you love charts)…


Ok… that in place, let’s talk politics.

(Hey! Hey! Wait! Come back! I don’t mean talk politics with names and causes and incidents. No. I promise, no candidates will be mentioned. Ok? Cool. Thanks.)

This is an essay that hopefully will give you a bit of a figurative smack. Something to get you moving. A call to action of sorts.

Something is happening in local, state and national politics. Trick is, the vast majority of us don’t care. And it turns out that not only don’t we care, that don’t care has a control knob. On standard and routine days… majority of people… knob sits around a 2. Make a story scandalous and exciting… we might actually pay a bit of attention, care just a smidgeon, and that control knob might even head toward 11 if you can toss in some really saucy elements. The main concept being simple enough… day to day, nothing too far out of the realm of ordinary… the vast majority of us really pay no attention to politicians and government activities. We need rumors and gossip and spice. Watch…

Do you know the next open government-centered meeting of any kind scheduled in your city or town? Any meeting. Any meeting at all. I don’t care if you actually miss the next meeting (or two or three or a dozen) that are on the town calendar. You don’t need the very next meeting. Just give me an upcoming meeting of any kind in the next three or four months and I’ll give you credit. (Maybe you do happen to know about the regular zoning board or town council get together. I doubt it.)

I’m not even going to wait for answers. My bet is that everyone knows the majority of people reading this essay are going to answer “nope” to the question. (Heck, I’m writing this essay, and by a quirk in house location I’m not even sure what local town hall I should be looking up to find the information for meetings that apply to me. (That’s a joke, but you’d be surprised how many people read that, laughed, and thought about their home location while thinking “tell me about it”.))

The point is… general city council meeting… for most people, that’s a yawn.

Send out notices of property tax increases though and heads will pop up all over the place. Attack the wallet and people will pay attention.

It’s about excitement. It’s about dollars and sense. It’s about personal stakes. And that’s a way of leading us back to the chart.

If you haven’t figured it out already, that chart is about elections. Going back over about eight national election years, the two columns reflect whether or not it was a presidential election. (You do know 2016 was a presidential election and 2014 was not. Right?) And the percentages?

I did a decent look around the internet for the percentages of eligible voters in each election. And while most places agree on numbers that are fairly close, I did have to adjust them a bit… round off the edges. (Not by much… but to explain what I mean: Some places put the rates of 2006 at 40.4%, and a few differed in 2010 by going as high as 42%. 2016 results (and actually, most of these) are still considered estimates on most sites. And as an added bonus, there are places that use registered voters for their numbers, while others base it on the overall voting age population numbers.) Here’s why my rounding numbers up or down slightly—or perhaps your searches finding numbers one or two percentage points different—doesn’t matter:

  • My main point is to show that of eligible voters, an amazing number of people don’t vote. Almost every source agrees… even as estimates… that in every presidential election since 1972, 40% or more of people of voting age didn’t vote. Think about that… significantly more than a third of the people that could vote, didn’t.
  • Secondary to that is what happened in those years when we aren’t electing a president. Massive do-not-care sets in, and well over half of the people that could vote decided not to show up. Basically, one out of three voters that were motivated to cast a ballot for a president decided they had better things to do this time around.

That’s scary stuff.

And it’s getting worse.

The numbers from 2014 have been marked as the lowest level of eligible voter turnout since 1942. (And for those of you not immediately connecting dots, the low 1942 results were in part attributed to the war. You know… that big war that was going on… when some voters might have been a bit preoccupied.)

The point is, you really to spin that knob up to 11. We need you to care. You really need to vote. Whether you love the way things are going or hate the way things are going, voting is a way to make your voice heard.

We’ve seen plenty of examples where one vote has mattered. Perhaps not specifically a single vote, but numbers so low where a hundred people in this city… a thousand in this state… might have changed the results. Numbers where, when you look at results where comfortably more than a third of voters decided to stay home… results where comfortably more than half of voters decided to stay home… it might have been different if 90%, 80%, 70%, or even just 65% of voters made an appearance.

These are numbers that say… if popular vote was the determining factor…

  • In national elections with a president involved, we are now seeing 60% of voters showing up. That means just 31% of eligible voters need to agree.
  • In national elections without a president involved, we are at or below 40% of voters showing up. Think about this for a moment, because in those situations just 21% of those that can vote need to agree. 21% of eligible voters can win a major election!

Am I stretching things a bit here? Yes, a little bit. But not by much. It’s not a stretch at all to suggest that mobilizing the vote can be the single most important factor in deciding an election. Any election. If you get the right groups of people into the voting booths, you don’t need the majority of the people in order to win… you just need the majority of those voting, and that does not need to be a massive percentage of the voting population. (Because in 2018… if it follows 2014 and 2010 and 2006 and 2002… three out of five voters are going to stay home.)

There are some people that are extremely happy with the way things are going in Washington right now, as well as how things are going in their home state and home town. And that’s fantastic.

There are some people that are massively upset and disappointed in the same results. Not fantastic to be the situation for them, but absolutely their right.

Either way, if you want things to continue or if you want things to change, the only way to have a voice in that happening is to vote.

Candidates right now are playing a game when it comes to elections. They are not looking to please everyone. They are not always looking to do what many of us would view as make the correct decision when considering right and wrong. All they are trying to do is connect the pieces together that get them to a magic number.

If you want to see a political shake up… a massive bolt of electricity rippling through government… all it would take is getting 50% of voters out this November.

Vote. Please. Vote.


If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at