What If We Held an Election and Nobody Came?

First a couple of disclosures.
1) I stole the headline. I know of at least one previous usage by Phil Keisling in the Washington Monthly in March1996. I suspect there are more.
2) I am fresh off a campaign where we lost. That makes me suspect for “sour grapes”, but I will make every effort to avoid that in discussing this issue. If you feel I’m not succeeding in this, complain and I will respond to your complaint by trying harder. This issue is too important to be lost in squabbling about side issues.
3) I supported the official I’m about to blame and unfortunately, given the same options, would probably support him again. It would be so nice to be presented with a good choice instead of having to settle for the lesser of two evils.
The point of the next several posts on this matter is that precious few Chadvillians showed up at the polls. For Palm Beach County, for Florida, and for the U S of A to escape the horrible governmental mess we’re in now will be IMPOSSIBLE unless more people show up to vote. There cannot be any more excuses for non-participation. Failure to participate FULLY will result in more of the same and I don’t believe anyone of any reasonable political persuasion or even anyone who truly wants to live in the America we all grew up in wants that.
I will point the finger of blame at several institutions. Today lets begin with the folks who brought you the largely unattended party called election day,the office of the Supervisor of Elections, Arthur W. Anderson, PH.D. He is an educator that didn’t.
As recently as July 6 Anderson declared

“Palm Beach County is doing all we can to improve our election process, as well as the number of our citizens who participate,” said PBC Supervisor of Elections, Dr. Arthur Anderson. “We are providing voter education in our county to increase public awareness of the right to vote and encouraging voter registration as well as participation in the election process. Making registering and voting as convenient as possible is what the GOTV program and our other community outreach efforts throughout the county are all about.”


The fact is, Dr. Anderson, you failed at that project.
Outside of my political activist friends I have yet to run into one resident who was fully aware of when, where and how to use EARLY VOTING.
Almost as many people I spoke with didn’t know who was running for what office and whether the Primary Election (whenever it was) was the final election or the candidates had to run again in some other election in “the Fall.”
The new voter cards you sent out (yes, the very same ones the poll workers at my early election site said I didn’t need) and the multi-page, multi-lingual brochure you sent with it arrived in my mailbox when early voting was HALFWAY OVER. This mailing provoked almost universal dissatisfaction that it was also written in Spanish. In fact I think that is OK, but realistically it took all attention away from the real issue of getting people out to vote.
Absentee ballots and their advocates who push them as a way to get around the paper trailess voting machines met with more controversy, but as far as I could see didn’t attract many voters. Isn’t their purpose to make it possible for MORE PEOPLE TO VOTE?

In fact the candidate advocated and funded by Democratic Congressman Robert Wexler in an all out frenzy to oust Theresa LePore didn’t live up to his primary campaign promises of a paper trail “Anderson’s campaign was driven by money, endorsements and residual anger stimulated by U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Delray Beach, whose own crusade for a paper ballot trail put him at legal and political odds with LePore long before the supervisor’s race began.
Wexler sued LePore and Secretary of State Glenda Hood, claiming paperless touch-screen voting machines violate state law. The claim was rejected by state circuit and appellate courts and by a district federal judge, but is still before a federal appeals court.
Wexler, his aides and others hovered around a laptop computer watching the vote get closer and closer until 11:47 p.m., when huge applause broke out, with supporters screaming, “You’re winning!”
“Wow! Wow! Wow!” Wexler exclaimed. “I’m starting to have fun.”

and much greater voter participation. Nor did the Anderson pledge to further educate voters turn out to be effective. There’s no need to dwell on the actual election day mechanics of our Supervisor of Elections — others did. See here and here.

Future posts will point fingers in more directions. Stay tuned.


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