Thursday, May 22, 2008

While Over 90% Of School District Budgets Passed. . .

. . .Less Than 10% Came Out To Vote

The big news is that the vast majority of school district budgets, at least here on Long Island, and presumably, all across the Empire State, passed muster on Tuesday, the few who braved foul weather giving the thumbs up to referendum designed to keep our schools in the black.

The sad news, and not quite as widely reported -- if reported at all -- is that only one in ten (that's a rough guesstimate, looking at the turnout versus registered voters in a handful of districts across the island) actually bothered to come out to the polls, whether in support of school budgets, or, as is their right, to simply say "no."

Of course, that's a vast improvement over voter turnout in other special district elections, such as water, fire, and sanitation, where the numbers hover somewhere in the neighborhood of 3-5%. [And that's registered voters. Include the eligible, but not registered, and, well, we're probably talking about a 1% turnout, if that.]

Even the last general election produced, on average, a paltry 19% voter turnout, the election of County Legislators and Town Supervisors (as local as local government gets next to that Sanitary District Commish you didn't vote for) notwithstanding.

So much for taking local control!

Do we really wonder why few things change in our hometowns -- the blight gets more blighted -- and why our "elected" officials spend more time in front of the camera (smile, and spell your name exactly as it should appear on page one) than confronting our problems?

They know -- oh yes, they really know -- that most of the few who do come out to vote, won't concern themselves with the issues, assuming they have a clue as to what the pressing issues of the day may be. No, they'll pull the levers on those antiquated voting machines as they have for years -- by party, by name recognition, or by eenie-meenee-minee-moe.

More than this, the folks who the few (too often erroneously referred to as "we") put in office, are counting on the fact that 75, 80, or even 95 percent of registered voters will do what they do election day after election day -- stay home.

Yes, it is true: Bad politicians are elected by people who do not vote!

Seems that here, in the land that "talks" democracy, and pays flag-waving tribute -- as we will next week on Memorial Day -- to those who gave their lives for that cherished vote, we've disenfranchised ourselves in ways that no voter suppression effort could ever come close to.

In many places around the globe, they dodge bombs and bullets, coming out in droves to cast that privileged ballot.

Here on Long Island, sadly, most of us aren't even willing to dodge a few raindrops.
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