Tuesday, December 16, 2014
You call that an election?
Question: Why does a group of 1000 voters get to set policy in a town with 16,000 registered voters and a population over 30,000? Answer: Because majority rules.
If that doesn't make sense to you- good!
Yet that is exactly what happened on December 9 in Hobbs. A special election was called on the issue of whether to require Voter ID for future municipal elections, and only 1310 patriots, 8% of registered voters, came out to exercise their hard won right to vote.
Not incidentally, the measure passed, and now Hobbs joins Albuquerque and Rio Rancho in requiring voters to show a photo ID in order to cast their ballots.
One has to wonder at the process behind this new law. Why would the town of Hobbs schedule a special election just one month after the general election, which almost always has a higher turnout. Granted, the turnout in Lea County was still a dismal 29%, but that is better than 8%. Lea's turnout was the lowest of any county in New Mexico, where, statewide, there was a depressing 40% participation rate.
Democracy is not always easy. But let's do something to make sure it remains democracy. Maybe elections need to have a quorum attached, so that if at least 50% of registered voters don't show up, the election is moot.
How about making it easier to register to vote, or better yet, universal registration of citizens. And what about making sure everyone gets a ballot in the mail that they can return either by mail or in-person? Or making Election Days holidays?
In a recent election, Scotland had over 90% voter participation, and most European and Latin American countries see similar participation rates. Our country has a Democracy problem, and it is time to remedy that. Instead of draconian ID laws that are proven to lower already low participation, our policymakers should be working to encourage civic engagement.
Posted by Rick Lass at 8:05 AM
- ► 2015 (28)
- ▼ 2014 (5)
- ► 2010 (20)