Why we did not vote … and why we did

Column by Andrea W. Doray
Posted 11/13/18

This column is not about vote shaming – we all have our reasons for what we do. Rather, it’s about what I’ve learned since the midterm elections. Did you know that Colorado’s voter turnout …

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Why we did not vote … and why we did

Posted

This column is not about vote shaming – we all have our reasons for what we do. Rather, it’s about what I’ve learned since the midterm elections.

Did you know that Colorado’s voter turnout was among the highest in the nation? As of Nov. 11, the U.S. Elections Project reports a 49 percent turnout rate nationally, the highest for midterm elections since 1966. The Project reports, however, that in Colorado nearly 60 percent of eligible voting-age adults participated.

In our state, women cast nearly 100,000 more votes than men, and unaffiliated voters were the largest group. And, perhaps not surprisingly, voters aged 18 to 34 made up more than 21 percent of the total.

Many of you who chose not to vote, though, told me your vote doesn’t matter, some of you because you believe that nothing changes, no matter who gets elected. Others responded in terms of sheer numbers … that your one vote won’t make a difference.

I also heard that some of you felt too uninformed to cast a reasonable ballot, especially given competing issues such as Propositions 109 and 110. Others told me that, as in the 2016 presidential campaign, you didn’t like any of the candidates and, rather than vote for or against someone, you didn’t vote at all.

I talked with Coloradans so I didn’t encounter many barriers to voting, such as access or transportation, because of our mail-in ballot system, but I did hear that it was too inconvenient and time consuming, again, perhaps, because the complex issues.

Many of you mentioned the barrage of negative attack ads – many of which (if not all) were proven by truth testers to be misleading at best and outright lies at worst – that turned you off politics altogether.

For those who did vote, the overwhelming reason was to send a message – a resist message, a support message, a mad-as-hell-and-not-going-to-take-it-anymore message. To whom we’re sending these messages varies, but usually it’s one or the other of the political parties, either nationally or locally or both.

I also heard another viewpoint that I want to believe about our government: By voting in elections, we are sending a message to the rest of the world, a message that we believe our democracy is such a vital political system that we are compelled to participate in one of its most foundational values.

For me personally, I vote for several reasons. For example, I honor both my parents, who served in World War II against tyranny on multiple fronts.

Also, I happened to visit Nepal during their national parliamentary elections in 2013. Transportation was shut down, candidates were killed or maimed, and opposition parties bombed polling stations. Yet, an astounding 70 percent of Nepal’s registered voters braved the volatile situation to show up.

Finally, in a heartbreaking insider ambush, National Guard Major Brett Taylor (and North Ogden, Utah, mayor) was killed in Afghanistan as he was providing security for Afghan elections, days before our midterms.

In his last Facebook post, Major Taylor wrote: “As the USA gets ready to vote in our own election next week, I hope everyone back home exercises their precious right to vote … and that whether the Republicans or the Democrats win, that we all remember that we have far more as Americans that unites us than divides us.”

Rest in peace, Major Taylor.

Andrea Doray is a writer who encourages us to cherish our hard-won freedoms and protect the rights of all Americans. Contact her at a.doray@andreadoray.com.

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