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Neosho Daily News - Neosho, MO
  • BILL REIBOLDT: Voters need to be knowledgeable about the process, issues before making a decision

  • Voting is important. Many of you are reading this column on Election Day and, hopefully, have already voted or are planning to do so before the polls close. Missouri election officials predict that statewide there will only be about a 25 percent turnout (or about one million voters) heading to the polls today.
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  • Voting is important. Many of you are reading this column on Election Day and, hopefully, have already voted or are planning to do so before the polls close. Missouri election officials predict that statewide there will only be about a 25 percent turnout (or about one million voters) heading to the polls today.
    These 25 percent will cast their votes, speaking for themselves and the other 75 percent (or about three million registered voters) who will choose not to make their voices heard. Typically, approximately 60 percent of eligible voters turn out to vote during presidential election years and 40 percent turn out in non-presidential election years.  
    Unfortunately, this turnout percentage is even lower in local elections. It would be great if all Missouri citizens would see the need to exercise their right to vote and express their opinions and views on important issues that help govern our state.
    When we think of the importance of voting and try to encourage people to take this responsibility more seriously, the main obstacle we encounter seems to be mostly voter apathy. One survey reported that among non-voters, their main reason for not voting was that they were “too busy” to do so. Others have a perception that politics are controlled by special interest groups, so there is no reason for them to vote.
    Unbelievably, another group of non-voters surveyed reported they were not interested in voting. Still other voters say they experience confusion and frustration when trying to make up their minds.  The solution to most of these problems is for each voter to become knowledgeable about the process and the issues before making a decision. On today’s ballot the constitutional amendment language is straightforward and a “yes” means “yes” and a “no” means “no.”
    Thousands of men and women have risked their lives to give us voting privileges. What would a non-voter have to say to those who made such huge sacrifices for this wonderful freedom? Yes, we do have the privilege to not vote; it is one of our freedoms.  
    But what if all of our citizens felt this way? Though the United States does not have it, several other countries have some form of compulsory voting, because they value this privilege so much. Did you know that in Australia it is reported that registered non-voters must pay a fine for not exercising their civic duty of voting? Their voter turnout is said to be over ninety percent.
    Oftentimes, people think their one vote may not make a difference in a race’s outcome. However, there have been races that were decided by no more than one or two votes. In 2008, following a recount, Alaskan District 7 Representative Mike Kelly was declared the winner over opponent Carl Kassel by one vote.
    Page 2 of 2 - In 2006, after a recount, Oklahoman Todd Tomsen won the State Representative seat bid over Darrel Nemesec by two votes. In the 1960 presidential election, John F. Kennedy beat out opponent Richard Nixon by 84 electoral votes and just .2 percent of the popular vote.
    And who can forget reading about the 1948 Truman and Dewey presidential race in which Truman went into the final stretch as the underdog but emerged the victor? The Chicago Tribune had even gone so far as to already declare Dewey the winner in this election. In each of these cases, voters — some of whom probably wondered if their votes really would make a difference —were truly the ones to decide the races’ outcomes.
    The right to vote is a great privilege and one that not all people on the earth are allowed to take part in. Please don’t let this opportunity pass without doing your best to make it to the polls and make your wishes known via the pen and ballot. Voting really is important.
    If I can be of help to you with any state matter, please do not hesitate to contact me by one of the following means: Mail: Bill Reiboldt, Office 235-BB, State Capitol, 201 W. Capitol, Jefferson City, Mo. 65101.
    Telephone: (573) 751-9781. Personal Cell Phone: (417) 456-0441.
    Email: bill.reiboldt@house.mo.gov: My website is www.billreiboldt.com.
    Find me on Facebook at facebook.com/morepbill or follow me on Twitter @MORepBill.
    Bill Reiboldt represents the people of Newton and McDonald counties in the Missouri House of Representatives.

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