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Will you vote or stay home?

October 19, 2010 - Steve Murch
Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land announced Monday that 95.5 percent of eligible residents are registered to vote in the November election. That's a pretty impressive number.

“With such an important election ahead, I'm pleased that so many people have registered to vote,” Land stated in a press release. “Now the next step is to cast a ballot on Nov. 2, either in person or by absentee ballot if you qualify. Everyone is encouraged to make their voice hear by voting.”

The big statement is “Now the next step is to cast a ballot ...” We all know that getting people to register is a lot easier than it is to get them to the polls, especially in a non-presidential election year.

The years with a gubernatorial election are significantly lower than the years that are presidential election years. The last presidential election (2008) had a state turnout of 66.2 percent; the last governor's race (2006) had a turnout of 50.7 percent. Roughly 1.2 million fewer people voted in the state governor's race than voted in the presidential race. Yet arguably the governor has a more direct effect on the Michigan voters.

The worst turnout for a gubernatorial election since 1950 was in 1990 with 38.6 percent. Can you imagine, less than 1 in every 4 eligible voters cared enough to head to the polls? While there are always some circumstances that may result in someone missing a vote, there weren't enough instances where over 61 percent of the eligible voters couldn't make it. Now THAT'S voter apathy. Actually, the primary turnouts are voter apathy, when those numbers dip below 25 percent.

Locally since January, registration in all four counties in our coverage area have seen registration go up. There are 197 more people in the four-county area who are registered now than in January. It's a good sign.

The argument that “my vote doesn't really count” is hogwash. We've seen time and again where a handful of votes can swing an election. Too any people focus on just the presidential race. There are elections at nearly every level this time, all which will affect you directly.

So, will you vote?


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