Sunday, February 10, 2008

Apathy alarm

The community I live in is populated by people who generally support one another. If a family loses its home to fire or flood, friends and neighbors rally together to provide shelter, clothing and household goods. If someone’s child suffers a catastrophic illness, you can bet there’ll be a well-attended event to raise money to help pay medical expenses. And above all else, this community supports its local sports teams. Whether it’s Dixie Boys League baseball, high school football, or any sporting event sponsored by LSU, people will wear the team colors, carry the signs, pack the stadiums, and shout encouragement. When people here care about something, they care all the way.

But there are some things, apparently, that they don’t care all that much about.

Louisiana’s presidential primary election, held yesterday, was a well-kept secret. If I hadn’t paid close attention to the national news, I might have missed it. Local news sources didn’t do much to publicize the election, and, so far, I haven’t seen even one yard sign or bumper sticker for any presidential candidate. Still, judging by the hotly contested races I’ve seen on national news shows, I expected a large voter turnout.

When I thought about going out to vote yesterday, I thought there'd be a long line at the polls. I knew my bad knees would suffer for it, but it was a gorgeous day, and if I had to wait in line a long time, it was a great day to do it. I enjoyed a leisurely Saturday morning, and as it was almost noon before I was ready to go, I decided to wait a couple more hours. I figured some folks would be using their lunch hour to vote and, since I had all day, it didn’t seem right to make the line longer for those good citizens.

Finally, it was time. I drove to my designated polling place, a nearby high school, and was surprised to find very few cars in the parking lot. Inside the school there were four people in line ahead of me, and only three more came in before I left. In nearly thirty years of voting in this community, I’d never seen such a light turnout for such an important election. The poll workers said it had been slow all day.

I don’t know what the turnout was like in the rest of this state, and I do know my candidate won, so you might think I should be happy and stop complaining. It’s just disturbing to me that a community I know to be so caring doesn’t care about an election that could have such an important effect on our future. Apathy disappoints me.

So, to the people whose job it is to get local folks to the polls on election day, I have a couple of suggestions: Cook a pot of jambalaya at each polling place. And, more important, get a few guys to stand outside and toss a football.


  1. It was light here in Little Rock the other day when I voted in our primary. I thought primaries were always pretty slow. I do expect huge lines in November.

  2. I think that the privilege of voting in a primary is so important. What if the person we like is not nominated to either party? Then we are stuck with who does win and that choice is up to us to determine. This year is so exciting and so important that we pick the right delagates for the National elections for both parties. Texas has 200 delegates and is becoming very important in the count. I intend to vote in the primary if I have to crawl to the polling place! Thank you for pointing out the importance of this in your blog!

  3. I watched the vote count come in and saw Obamba's count jump and said there is velvet's vote.
    I saw a early interview on Obama's given by his wife, they ask her if she feared for her husband's life and she said. My husband is a black man and he is in danger when he goes to the car wash.
    very sad . maybe times are changing I hope so.
    He has said he will get us out of Iraq in 3 months if elected. I am for that. I am for universal health care.
    I do think Obama is going to be the canidate for the democrate party.
    I wondered why the vote was light in Lousiana when the vote was heavy in other states.

  4. It could be that people thought it would be packed, and they had better ways to spend their Saturday than standing in line to vote-and it wasn't a "real" election.

  5. At least your state got the ballets counted! We're still waiting to see who won here in New Mexico. The problem here was they never anticipated that so *many* people would turn out and they ran out of ballets. Carmon

  6. Annie, I agree that primaries are usually lighter than normal, but with the delegate count as close as it is, I expected the turnout to be higher.

    Nan16, what you said about being "stuck with who does win" is exactly why I think voting in the primary is important. Otherwise, we could once again be in the position of voting against someone instead of for someone.

    Patsy, yep, I was pretty pleased when that vote count jumped. This is the most interesting race I remember in a long time.

    Janet, you might be right. I guess "something better to do" is an individual determination.

    Carmon, that's a good point. Do they have the ballot issue straightened out yet?


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