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Saturday, January 23, 2021

Getting out the vote

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Elections are over, but we’re still awaiting the results as ballots continue to be counted. I knew this was going to be a doozy of a presidential election because it’s 2020, and it’s been a doozy of a year. I know we like to predict in this country, but I try not to put too much energy into speculation because polls have been wrong before. However, I did take heed to one prediction: The outcome of the presidential election won’t be determined on election night. I didn’t allow myself to stress about results because I knew there were tons of votes that needed to be counted. 

What I find disappointing, though, is even though Marion County had 58% voter turnout, and surpassed the 53% voter turnout achieved in 2016, that’s still an awful lot of voters who didn’t  “turn out.”

What is keeping the other 42% of voters from casting their ballot?

I think that is a question those of us who believe in democracy must ask — and listen to those who don’t vote. Is it a matter of transportation, disinterest, disillusion or something else? Gov. Eric Holcomb didn’t allow Hoosiers who didn’t want to vote at a polling site because of COVID-19 to vote absentee. Did the fear of contracting COVID-19 while voting keep some away? 

I’m someone who believes everyone should vote. I believe many politicians don’t want everyone to vote because it could ruin their chances of continual election. Why else do so many invest in making it difficult for people to vote? Voter suppression is real, and as long as members of the electorate stay home, they’re allowing someone to represent them who likely doesn’t have their best interests in mind. 

We need to find out why we don’t have 100% turnout every election. Community leaders and politicians who care should put more effort into understanding the reasons so many don’t participate in elections and educate those individuals on the importance of their vote. I’m going to venture to say that many who don’t vote don’t see how their vote counts. They feel hopeless, unseen and unheard, and they think voting will do little to change that. I understand that sentiment, but I believe part of that is because for so many years we voted and believed that ended our civic duty. As I said in a previous column, voting is just the beginning of our civic duty. We can’t let politicians off the hook until the next election rolls around. While I had and still have issues with Ice Cube meeting with the Trump administration, I understand his point that Black people can’t be uninvolved in the political process if our chosen candidate isn’t elected. We must be involved, make demands and be heard no matter who wins. For too long we’ve let others decide the important issues for us then feel ignored when our concerns aren’t part of the conversation.

And, we need to make sure we spend just as much time on local elections as we do national elections. 

Speaking of local elections, I vowed a while ago to pay more attention to judges. I’m trying to keep that promise, but it’s difficult to find information on judges. I want to know the record of judges running to retain their seats. I easily found the information I sought for the Indiana Supreme Court judge and Indiana Court of Appeals judges, but it was like looking for a needle in a haystack when it came to Marion County judges. I admit I don’t know every resource available in cyberspace, but I’m pretty handy with Google, and I couldn’t find the information — nor could anyone I know. The information may be online, but it shouldn’t feel like hunting for buried treasure to find it. Judges wield a lot of power, and I’d like to be more informed when I vote for them. If anyone can point me in the right direction, I’d appreciate it. If such information is not easily accessible, it needs to be ASAP.

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