Is it over yet? It’s Election Day…finally! I have spent the past week screening my calls–thank heaven for caller ID– since we’ve been inundated by political calls. And I don’t even vote in this state. Weeks ago, I marked and mailed my absentee ballot. In fact, I have voted absentee for my entire voting life. And I am extremely proud to say that I have never missed an election.
I do get election burnout, though. It never fails that by Election Day, I exceed my tolerance for the rhetoric. I think it’s because I get so invested in the issues from the beginning that when the moment of truth arrives, I’m exhausted. Health care reform has been a huge topic since the town hall meetings of the summer of 2009 and the final vote in March of 2010. The ban on funding for embryonic stem cell research was lifted in March of this year and then revisited this past summer after court decisions reinstated it and then suspended it again. Financial reform also was debated through the summer. And let’s not forget the debate and hearings all summer over the new Supreme Court justice Elena Kagan. Add to all that the primary elections and the campaigning for the November elections, and I’m done.
Part of the reason for the emotional roller coaster I suffer through is the realization that even though I am passionate about the issues at stake, and a vocal minority shares that passion, most of America can’t be bothered. The majority of folks you pass in the mall or the grocery store just don’t give a damn. According to the United States Election Project, voting-eligible population (VEP) turnout in the last mid-term election (2006) was a mere 41.3%. Compare that with VEP turnout in the 2008 presidential election, which topped out at 62.2%. That’s pathetic. So many Americans take for granted the role they play in our government.
We’re supposed to be the bastion of freedom in the world. But judging by international voting statistics, we fall pretty short of that distinction. Russia has only been directly electing its president since 1991, and its voter turnout comes in at 69.7% in the last election. Consider Afghanistan. Voters there face threats against their lives and bombings at polling places. Yet they still cast votes. In 2004, 83.66% of registered voters showed up to vote.
There is so much at stake in this off-year election. It’s too important to just blow off. And how can people, especially military folks, just stand by when absentee ballots for overseas military voters don’t get sent out in time to be counted, or voting machines malfunction, or votes by dead people are counted? Wake up, America! Freedom is fading in this country, and today’s the day to something about it. I’ve done my part, and now I’m tired. I’ll follow the returns tonight through half-closed eyes because I can’t bear to watch.
Then it will all be over, and I’ll be able to breathe without anxiety. Oh, wait. There will be days of election analysis…races too close to call…talk of what the lame-duck Congress will or won’t try to do…Sigh.