Vote Count

Jeff Miracola’s Ballot Box     Monday, I blogged on voter turnout and hoped it would be impressively high this election. I hoped for that because I want to see Americans exercise their right to vote. My Puerto Rican relatives living on the island, as American citizens, can vote in presidential primaries. However, because Puerto Rico is not a state nor do its citizens pay federal income tax, Puerto Ricans living on the island cannot vote in presidential general elections. Many people argue over the fairness of that, but that’s not the point of this post. My point is that Americans who can vote, should.

     Initial vote tallies are coming in, and they show numbers actually went down. The American University’s Center for the Study of the American Electorate used vote tallies from the Associated Press to come up with some initial data. It isn’t complete because there are still votes to be tallied — in some heavily populated states — but it gives an idea.

     The examiners say about 61 percent of voting-age Americans actually voted Tuesday. The Census Bureau put it at 64 percent for 2004. Back to the AUC study, Minnesota scored the highest turnout with 75.9 percent of the voting-age population casting ballots, down from 76.8 percent four years ago. Wisconsin, my home state, came in second but also had declines, at 70.9 percent this year compared to 73.8 percent in 2004.

     I’m always saddened when I see fewer people taking part in the political process, but I try to look on the bright side, too. Local elections can have turnout in the single digits, so anything over 50 percent should be celebrated. It shows at least half the population cares how this whole thing turns out.

What’s Hot? The Election!

     On this Election Day, I joined WTMJ-TV Anchors George Mallet and Courtny Gerrish and WTMJ-AM Host Jeff Wagner on the show’s “What’s Hot” segment to talk over election- and voting- related issues.

     Hot Topic Number One: How foreign countries view the U.S. election and hope for a “less arrogant America.” My take? See for yourself:

     Hot Topics Number Two and Three: Whether the state of Wisconsin should require voters to show a photo ID to vote and whether Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin was poorly dressed at the polls, considering the controversy over her wardrobe costs. My thoughts here:

     Lots to say on all those issues, but they can’t be said now. Election results are pouring in!

You — Go Vote!

Vote Pin     In about nine hours here, the polls will open for Election Day 2008. Don’t worry, no push here for whom to vote.

     I will say, though, as a journalist, I’ve been appalled at low voter turnout on some elections. Those are usually the smaller local elections as opposed to national presidential ones. And while some experts are predicting 75 percent turnout tomorrow (It was 64 percent in 2004 and 60 percent in 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.), it’s still amazing to me that roundabouts a third of the nation lets others choose their leaders; leaders who will have an impact on almost every major aspect of their lives over the next four years.

     For some, not voting is just an expression of their cynicism over the whole process. I say, sure, leaders can’t make everything perfect for all of us, but they do influence the world around us and shape our futures. I say, it’s worth it to do your best to select one that you feel will do well by you. Don’t be one of those who is censored — silenced — by themselves.

     So go vote! Make yourself a force to be reckoned with!