Are you planning to vote next Tuesday?
Why don’t more people vote?
Americans pride themselves on our freedoms, citing the right to vote as a cornerstone of our democracy. Yet the United States ranks 27th in the world in voter turnout (according to the Pew Research Center, Belgium (87.2%) and Sweden (82.6%) top the list, with the U.S. trailing at 55.7%).
And that’s for national elections! Voter turnout for local elections, such as next week’s race between Cindy Boatwright and Nancy Mace, is far lower.
So what is it? Why don’t more people vote? Some insist, “it’s just one vote, mine won’t make a difference” and I understand – when thousands or millions of ballots are cast, you think, what difference will one vote make? But that argument burst into flames this past fall when a Virginia house race ended up in a perfect tie – 11,608 votes for Shelly Simonds and 11,608 votes for David Yancey (to decide the winner they placed each candidate’s name in a film canister, placed them in a bowl and picked one out of the canister!).
So your vote does count, and it’s ever more important on a local race where voter turnout is historically low.
A few facts to ponder:
• South Carolina House District 99, covering parts of both Berkeley and Charleston County, has a population of 49,234.
• Eligible voters in House District 99 total 36,531.
• During the 2016 presidential election, Jim Merrill, who held the District 99 seat for 17 years, received 15,967 votes (Merrill ran unopposed), with another 238 write-ins. Voter turnout: 44.3%.
• But two years earlier, in a non-presidential year, Merrill received just 8,689 votes (again, running unopposed), with voter turnout at just 23.8%.
So consider voting next Tuesday, for either candidate – Cindy Boatwright or Nancy Mace. And if you’re unfamiliar with their positions, check out their websites: cindyboatwrightforsc.com and nancymace.org and the paper’s coverage of the candidates’ positions as outlined at Monday night’s forum on pages 12-14.
Remember, your vote does count!