Monday, November 09, 2015

Voter apathy: possible causes; possible solutions.

The lack of voter turn out made a brief splash in media around the state... then disappeared as it always does.

I have to admit that voter apathy doesn't bother me.  In real terms, it strengthens the vote of those who actually do cast a ballot.

We see a variety of postulates as to how and why people no longer bother to vote.

At base, people don't vote, I believe, for the oldest reason in human nature: they don't get anything out of it.

By "anything," I'm not referring to "stuff" in the material sense, although "stuff" is what drove and what drives the left to vote... but even that isn't enough sometimes.

And much of that is factored into the rules/laws concerning when we vote.

Let's take, for example, school bonds and levies.

Typically the absolute worst turn outs take place during these elections, which occur at odd times on the calendar that make no sense... a deliberate effort designed to repress turn out.

If the people behind these efforts wanted turn out, they'd only hold these elections during even-numbered general elections.

There's no viable reason not to... except to reduce turn out and increase the likelihood of passage as a result.

So, we send out mixed messages.  We tell people voting is "important," then we've taken institutional steps to reduce turn out by holding votes in, say, February or whenever.

Want to increase turnout in all elections?

Have only two days per even numbered year... the day of the primary and of the general... where electoral issues of all stripes are determined.  Only allow odd-numbered year elections in the event of an office vacancy.

While that may lead to long ballots... it would also lead to greater turn out.

But that kind of thinking isn't allowed, because in reality, few elected to anything actually WANT greater turn out.

There are so many elections, so often, that they just become part of the background noise.

People are numbed to them.  And, as a result, combined with the voters feeling increasingly disenfranchised, voters are less likely to be involved.

So, how is that part of the equation addressed?

The left has consistently used a variety of technicalities to throw out initiatives.  Of the 11 Eyman initiatives passed to date, five have been declared unconstitutional by our state's supreme court, and two were overturned by the legislature.  That means more than half the time on those initiatives, the voice of the voter didn't matter... it didn't count... and those who could have MADE it count, the legislators... weren't interested.

Who can forget the famous $30 car tab fee/voter approval for tax increases initiative, 695?

We heard many of the same things then that we're hearing how on this issue.  And, of course, in yet another sign that my own Senator, Ann "Gas Tax" Rivers, could care less about the voice of the people expressed at the poles, the people of this state voted to cap tab fees at $30... a number she's blown off as SHE voted to jack our tab fees up without letting us have any say.

The left, of course, hating either to see revenue reduced OR to allow the people to have any say on tax increases, immediately took 695 to court and the state supreme court dutifully threw out 695 as a violation of the two subject rule.

So, what did the Republican legislature do?

They gave us the temporary fix of reducing our car tab fees to $30.

None of them, to my knowledge, even tried to get a referendum out there to require a vote of the people on tax increases.

So, what was the fallout?

The idea was to placate the morons voting for allegedly conservative Republican legislators by giving them half a loaf.

But when it came to empowering the people of this state to have any say on jacking our taxes?

No deal.

I was working there as Marc Boldt's Legislative Assistant at the time.  I was filled with disgust at what they were doing and that's when the worm of doubt began to turn... that neither side gives a damn what we want.

Which goes to the heart of the matter:

What the Legislature obviously SHOULD have done was to bifurcate the initiative and re-referred it to the voters.

Or, bifurcate it and pass both issues.

Instead of throwing us an easily blown-off bone and then ignoring the part that they didn't like: their ability to screw us with jacking up our taxes like "Gas Tax" Rivers and her GOP majority did, they should have done everything in their power to permanently implement ALL of 695, which passed 56% to 43% among the voters of this state.

The outcome is that where it matters... the courts and the legislature ignore the people at the state level.

At the national level, the same type of mind set applies: both sides want us to go over the cliff... the left wants to sprint while the right wants to stroll.  But the damage is the same when you hit.

We have non-responsive courts.  Non-responsive legislatures.  Non- responsive Congress.  Non-responsive executives.

So... why vote?  Simple, really.

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