Why do so many neglect privilege of voting?

Published 10:11 pm Monday, May 24, 2010

As an elected official, I am tuned into voting habits and practices. Call me a political junkie, but I am fascinated by the whole electoral process — what age group votes most often, what issues motivate them and what media outlet is the most effective.

While all of my interest in the political world is a hobby of sorts, I am disturbed by the fact that each election brings a lower percentage of registered voters to the polls.

How can Americans and/or Alabamians neglect the most important fundamental privilege afforded them — access to the ballot box where their voices could be heard?

I signed on as a John McCain supporter in 2008 because I felt he had earned a spot on the national ticket through being a P.O.W., a long-serving U.S. Senator and a former Presidential contender.

Granted, McCain had his share of deficiencies, but they were not serious enough that I looked to another candidate or worse, chose not to vote in the general election.

Since that election, I have had discussions with a lot of people who were adamantly opposed to the Obama-Biden ticket but who said they didn’t vote because they thought McCain was either a weak nominee or not conservative enough.

I am astounded that anyone who is driven by free-market, less-government principles could sit out an election as pivotal as the 2008 contest. Sometimes you have to hold your nose when you cast your vote. You might not like the candidate you’re voting for on all the issues, but the alternative is far worse.

Find the candidate most palatable to your tastes, and put an “X” by his or her name.

I am reminded of an elected official from Montgomery who served for almost 20 years and lost his last race in a very close primary election.

He told me that his phone polls showed him with an almost double-digit lead 10 days out from the election. Unfortunately for him, he chose to sit on a lead and a war chest of campaign money.

He didn’t remind his voters to turn out on Election Day, and he lost in a squeaker.

On top of that, he heard from numerous friends after the election that they didn’t vote because they thought he had it in the bag. Voter complacency is one of the most serious offenses in the political arena. Whether or not you believe your candidate is the runaway favorite, don’t let him or her down by failing to vote.

The upcoming primaries in the Democratic and Republican Party will be held in a few weeks on June 1.

The election falls one day after Memorial Day, a perfect time to find an excuse to unpack and unwind from the long weekend.

This election is crucial, with important races for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and a host of other contests.

Regardless of which primary you vote in, please find time to go to the polls to exercise not just a “right,” but more important, a “privilege” we often take for granted.