Friday, October 30, 2009

What If They Gave An Election and Nobody Came?

I don't understand why people are calling Tuesday an "off year election". Is 2009 not really a year? Is this Election Day not really an election? For a country that spends a lot of time promoting democracy around the world, our primary(and general election) concern should be about the voting process here in the U.S.

I did a show the other night for about 50 people and I told them there were more people in the audience than had voted in New York City's runoff election. Actually a whopping 8% of eligible voters bothered to exercise their democratic right last month. I was one of the select fee who voted. The bored election officials applauded when I entered the empty polling place.

I love voting. Sometimes I even wave when I leave the voting booth, just to confuse people. "Is that guy running for something?", they probably ask themselves.

In a recent primary in Virginia, the turnout was 3%. 3% is the margin of error in a poll. So it's actually possible no one voted.

I remember a few years ago when there were elections in Haiti, people voted as they were getting shot at. In New York, people don't vote when it's partly cloudy. They complain, "I have to put my coat on, walk two blocks. Do they deliver?"

The media doesn't help when they broadcast polls that tell us who would win if the election were held today. If the election were held today, nobody would vote, because it's not Election Day.

New York City Mayor Bloomberg is so rich he turned down living in the opulent Gracie Mansion. He probably thought, "I'd much rather live in my larger, more expensive home."

Bloomberg has spent more than $85 million in his reelection campaign so far and will probably top $100 million. That's more than the GNP of some developing countries. We would have been better off if Bloomberg just handed the money to us directly. His opponent Bill Thompson has only $6.6 million to spend. When $6.6 million is "only", there's a problem somewhere.

But that's no excuse not to vote. Not only do you have no right to complain if you don't bother to vote, but I propose that elected officials only listen to constituents who voted(for them or anyone else).

So on Tuesday go out there and vote. If past turnout is any indication, there won't be long lines. But it would be better for our country if there were.