Occupy the Voting Booth!

Via on Oct 17, 2011

There are three little words that always upset me:

“I don’t vote.”

 

In the 2008 election, there were 98,611,000 people who could have voted and didn’t.

This was also the largest turnout since 1968.

 

 

 

 

(Image: MimiFrouFrou)

The number one reason given to the U.S. Census Bureau for not voting?

“I was too busy.”

That was the answer from registered voters, and doesn’t even take into account Americans who are eligible but have not registered to vote.

A few numbers to consider if you think you might be too busy this election day:

In the 2008 election*,

Only 56.8% of the voting age population came out and voted.

That means that there were 98,611,000 people who could have voted and didn’t do it.

This was the largest voter turn out (percentage-wise) since 1968.

51.9 % of those making less than $20,000 a year voted.

91.8% of those making more than $100,000 a year voted.

In 2010, the percentage of voters dropped to 37.8 %

That number is typical for an “off-year” election.

If we the 99% who don’t control of the majority of the money or political power in this country throw away our voting privileges, we are also throwing away our right to complain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Image: Wikipedia)

The classic Walt Kelly “Pogo” cartoon felt relevant here. Kelly originally used the comic as an Earth Day message:  we are responsible for this mess. It’s true here too.

It’s easy to blame the 1%. It’s harder to look at where we are the enemy. When we shop at big box stores even though we don’t like their politics, we contribute to the mess. When we don’t want to “get political” because it feels unfamiliar or uncomfortable, we contribute to the mess. When we throw away our voting privileges, we contribute to the mess.

Protesting can be a wonderful tool to bring about change. I am excited to see the international response to the Occupy Wall Street movement. I am concerned that there will be those who use the spectacle of it all to push their own, unrelated agendas. I am afraid that there are still many––even among this movement––who will find themselves “too busy” come Election Day.

Election Day is three weeks from tomorrow. If you don’t know what’s going on with your local and state elections, you have three weeks to find out. #Occupy Google. Get the facts. What referendums are on the ballot? What do the candidates believe? How have they voted in the past? Look past party lines and look at the people––do they stand for what you believe? Start thinking about next year’s election and while you’re on a roll, start voting with your wallet.

Your mission should you choose to accept it? Occupy the voting booth. If you had time to read this, you are not too busy. Whoever you vote for, whatever issues matter the most to you, a ballot carries your voice even further than a human megaphone. Do it for Deamonte. Do it for your own kids, or the ones you hope to have someday. Do it for all the people all over the world who struggle just to get by, and don’t have a vote to throw away.

All 100% of “we the people” have contributed to this mess. Don’t throw away your chance to dig in and clean it up.

Related bonus (from one of my favorite movies):

YouTube Preview Image

 

(*Voting statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau and The Washington Post.)

About Kate Bartolotta

Kate Bartolotta is the strongest girl in the world. She is the love child of a pirate and a roller derby queen. She hails from the second star to the right. Her love of words is boundless, but she knows that many of life’s best moments are completely untranslatable. When she is not writing, you may find her practicing yoga, devouring a book, playing with her children, planting dandelions, or dancing barefoot with her heart on her sleeve. She is madly in love with life and does not know how this story ends; she’s making it up as she goes. Kate is the owner and editor-in-chief of Be You Media Group. She also writes for The Huffington Post, elephant journal, The Good Men Project, The Green Divas, Yoganonymous, The Body Project, Project Eve, Thought Catalog and Soulseeds. She facilitates writing workshops and retreats throughout North America. Heart Medicine, Kate's book on writing, is now available on Amazon.com You can follow Kate on Facebook and Twitter

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5 Responses to “Occupy the Voting Booth!”

  1. Wilson says:

    I agree… to an extent. Voting is crucial and I wish everyone would vote. *IF* 91% of those making under $20,000/voted, for example, then politicians would be forced to take into account these voices, which they largely ignore.

    Yet, I think urging everyone to vote misses much of the larger picture of #OccupyWallStreet. The way we vote in the United States is not very democratic for several reasons: 1) most often, the person who raises the most money, wins, meaning that politicians understand that they absolutely must cater to corporate interests. 2) the voting system has evolved so that in presidential elections, in any case, only a handful of states really matter in terms of the election outcome (there are many other problems with the voting system, but this is the most obvious). 3) both the GOP and the Democratic Party come out of a classical liberal tradition, meaning that the political debate is more narrowly defined than it should be. 4) the media are mostly owned by large corporations. 5) politicians generally stick to talking points, and avoid serious explanations of their proposals – and, right now, we need serious investigation of structural issues in our society. 6) it’s not at all clear that even well-meaning politicians have the ability to create meaningful change, given the deadlock in Washington. So, change needs to come from elsewhere. 7) historically, the ballot-box has rarely been an instrument of major social and political change – the Civil Rights movement is a good example, but there are many.

  2. And, notably, the people least likely to vote are younger people. This is why, despite the fact that recent polls show that a majority of Americans favor gay marriage, and one recent poll says that 50% of the population favors legalizing marijuana, we're not likely to see either of these getting the traction they deserve anytime soon: large majorities of older people–who are the most likely to vote, remain opposed to both.

    • Yes! It's upsetting. Just look as the way the Mormons & Catholics (not bashing…just the facts) rallied to push Prop 8 through! I never thought I would see the day where California was less welcoming to gay families than Connecticut…. I have voted every year since I turned 18. I can't imagine having the opportunity to vote and not taking it.

  3. Mike says:

    Most people can't follow through on anything. Look at how many people join gyms as a new years resolution then stop going. I think the low rate of young people voting or people of any age voting for that matter has to do with lack of consideration for priority's. People are willing to spend money on expensive cloths yet are unwilling to utilize their privilege to vote.

  4. [...] I have always tried to maintain an open-minded, non-partisan position politically. The two party system in America is limited, and yet within both parties and all of our political realm, there are often bright and brilliant minds. I concede that whether I agree with them or not. I have friends and family members on both sides of the aisle, and involved with third and fourth party candidates, so in the past, my sentiment has always been, “Just vote. Let’s all just agree to stay involved.” [...]

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