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Just vote...

Since the summer version of elections are fast approaching, I thought it the appropriate time to share some information about elections abroad that will come as a shock to our American systems.

While in Ireland several weeks ago, I had the privilege of watching the election returns for the Irish and the European parliaments. The mentality toward voting there is so different from the way it is here.

People actually care.

In one constituency of around 500,000 people (similar to what we call a voting district), there were more than 400,000 votes cast. To get that kind of turnout we would have to force people at gunpoint to cast their vote.

I've heard all the "Why I don't vote" speeches from people in the U.S., and they're all pathetic, whiny excuses wrapped in laziness. We were given the right and the responsibility to chose who governs us, so why don't people care enough to let their opinion be heard through their vote.

At least the vast majority of people in Ireland have the right to complain. I subscribe to the theory that voting is voicing one's opinion; therefore, it gives those who vote the right to declare that things are in a terrible state. No vote, no complaint because you didn't put your support out there for a candidate one way or another.

But election after election in America, never much more than 30 percent of voters turn out, even for big elections. This allows the minority to govern the majority. I don't know what you learned about democracy in grade school, but that sounds like anything but democracy.

Why is it that so many people in Ireland care and so many in America don't? I wish I knew. Year after year, week after week, people refer to the United States as the greatest nation on the earth. How can we make that claim if apathy is our response to government corruption?

That response tells me our country is headed downhill fast. Ireland, on the other hand, is on an economic upswing and people are passionate about politics. Ireland had the presidency of the European Union for the past six months, and their prime minister was vital to the drafting of the EU constitution.

They have so much going for them. We should take a page from their book and get involved. People here need to pay attention to what is happening in all areas of their government, and they should, at the very least, vote.

Remember that this Tuesday, July 20, is an important election day in McDuffie County. Don't let apathy eliminate your voice and take away your say in how government affects you. Go vote.

Web posted on Wednesday, July 14, 2004

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