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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Discouraging Voter Turnout In Kentucky's Primary Elections..

Discouraging voter turnout

In Kentucky Tuesday only 14 percent of registered voters decided it was worth the trouble to go to the polls.

Remarkably, that's more than the 10 to 12 percent election officials had anticipated.

This is discouraging for any number of reasons. Low turnout means a small portion of the population is making some serious decisions for everyone else. That's just not good for democracy.

It's also an indication that, as a people, we take the right to vote freely for whomever we choose much too lightly.

It was just last year when the entire world was excited about the Arab spring as millions risked their lives to agitate for the right of self-determination. Throughout the last century disenfranchised groups within this country, women and African-Americans, fought for the right to vote.

And, with Memorial Day approaching, we must remember that thousands of Americans have returned home in flag-draped coffins after fighting for these rights for people in other parts of the world.

But blaming voters is not the only issue. It is too hard to vote. In Kentucky the polls close at 6 p.m., an hour that might have made sense in an agricultural society where most women didn't work outside the home.

Today, with the press of round-the-clock work, school, extracurricular activities and a host of other distractions, that's an unreasonably early hour.

Beyond that, though, in this country we still insist for the most part on voting only one day, in the middle of the week and almost always in person. What about voting on weekends, or by mail or by secure Internet connection?

Technology has made it easier to count votes but, frankly, it hasn't done much to make it easier to cast them.

We know that money is an issue here, as everywhere. New technology comes at a cost, as would expanding polling hours or days.

But as a society we need to consider the cost that has been paid to give people the right to vote; and the potential cost of letting that right drift away without a fight.

Read more here:

Editor's note: in my precinct, it was 3.5% turnout! Yes, SHAMEFUL, I know!

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