Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Voter Apathy or Lack of Communication to Blame for Low Election Day Turnout?

By Sandy Belknap

Last year, Election Day was exciting.  Of course, there was an historic Presidential race taking place where millions of Americans from 18 to over 90 years old voted for the first time in the lives.

Election Day 2009 is quite different today.  With the parking lot of my polling location almost empty, I quickly grabbed a parking spot and was in and out of Ledge Street School in less than 5 minutes.  (It would have been two minutes had I not stopped to talk to some neighbors who were volunteering at the polls today.)

It's disheartening to me that so few local residents know about our local elections or, are willing to take a few minutes once a year to cast votes that are key to shaping our City's future.  With polling places open from 6am-8pm, there's plenty of time to stop to cast a ballot.  Most companies even allow time off to employees to go vote.   

While today's local election is not as exciting and 'star -studded' as last year's Presidential election, there are so many local issues where Nashua residents have a chance today to put people into elected office that will have an impact for many years to come.    While I tend to sometimes complain about our local paper, I do give the editors and writers a lot of credit for excellent pre-election coverage.  Every day for the past month, there were articles about the candidates that included personal profiles and information about their platforms.  Today, the Telegraph is already reporting low voter turnout - even though they did a great job to try to get people to the polls.

This afternoon, I asked a friend of mine if she voted today.  She didn't know that there was an election.  She doesn't read the local paper.

So, is it voter apathy or lack of awareness that is really to blame for today's low voter turn out?  Maybe a little of both?!

I can't help but wonder that if the City had used Twitter or Facebook to engage the local population, would more citizens have known that there is an election today, thus boosting voter turnout.

What do you think?

2 comments:

  1. Here in Hampton Roads, I calculated the voter turnout at less than 33%... and that's of ALL registered voters! What's wrong with our democracy?

    My worry is that our society has become way too "ME" focused and not enough "WE"...

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  2. Hey Hampton Roads -- Don't knock 33%. Our local paper reported that Nashua voter turnout was a whooping 13.5%! (I grew up as a 'military brat' and one of the most important lessons I learned was that our right to vote should never be taken for granted.)

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