The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

October 28, 2013

In America, voting is our civic duty|

By Mitchell Lynch
The Daily Star

---- — Ben Franklin said: “Freedom requires diligence …” I wonder how diligent we are as a country when, over the last five decades, only 50 percent of Americans show up to vote.

Compare this to other free nations that range anywhere from 70 percent to 90 percent, and it’s easy to see that we are losing our way. I have written about this in earlier columns, and it has come to the forefront of my mind with elections coming up next month.

I always try to make it a practice to research issues. I did not always do this in my youth, and I wished I had taken the time to speak from a more-informed and -educated position. I took some time this week to do some more research about why we have a low voter turnout in America.

Socioeconomic factors can significantly affect whether individuals develop the habit of voting. The most important socioeconomic factor affecting voter turnout is education. The more educated a person is, the more likely he or she is to vote.

Heredity can be a genetic factor and explain why parental turnout is such a strong predictor of voting in young people, as people inherit behaviors as well as genes from their parents.

Much of the impetus to vote comes from a sense of civic duty, which is based in culture.

In several surveys, when asked why people do not vote, many people report that they have too little free time. Multiple studies have consistently shown that the amount of leisure time has not decreased.

The more I looked into this, I found several other issues, such as voter registration, proportionality, and finally, voter fatigue that have contributed to the decline of voter turnout in America. The more I read, the more I came to a conclusion. As always, there are reasons people do or not do anything. It comes down to a personal decision to get out and vote.

I’ve heard the excuses: “My vote doesn’t count.” “It won’t make a difference.” “I don’t have time.” They are just that ... excuses.

I grew up with blue-collar parents; my father served in the Air Force during the Cold War. They always voted, but never really talked politics in our house. I often wonder, why not? Could it be that because we were just kids, what would we know about politics?

Thinking about this later in my life, I suspect that my mother and father always didn’t always see eye-to-eye on the political spectrum. Interesting that they saw things politically different, but it was not a house divided. My mother would talk politics with me at the end of her life and would always ask me if I had voted yet during each election cycle.

For me, voting is an honor and a privilege. I believe to not vote is an insult to those who serve in our military, who have served — and died — to protect our freedoms and our way of life. It is my civic duty and responsibility as a United States citizen. I do not take myself out of the voting process if the issue or candidate that I voted for does not pass or win. I will continue to be diligent…

Will you? Get out and vote Nov. 5.

Mitchell Lynch is the publisher of The Daily Star. He can be reached at mlynch@thedailystar.com or at (607) 441-7214.