Monday, December 14, 2009


Tomorrow is the runoff election that will decide who is our next mayor. We had a relatively strong turn out for the special election, and it looks like a good but much smaller turn out for the runoff. I would love to see an 80% to 95% turnout, but we will be lucky to get 15%. When the final tally is in, our next Mayor will have been elected by the minority of eligible voters that put out the effort to make a difference.

As some of you probably know, I have been involved with the TGC Election Support Association from its beginning. Greater voter turnout and participation is one of our major goals, and I have been doing a lot of reading, researching, and thinking on the problem. There are lots of theories and opinions on why people don't vote. If you look at it from an individual perspective with tools like game theory or cost benefit analysis, it's a wonder anyone votes at all. The question that needs to be answered is "Why do people vote?" As a society, we do need people to vote, but really why do individuals vote? I would really like your thoughts on this. It can be as simple as why you vote (or don't) or a broader philosophical answer or whatever you think might help. I would appreciate you ideas and input.

Tell me Why.


  1. I think Star Parkers article in the ST today says somthing about this... a majority in a gallup poll gives the house of reprepresenatives a low-very low rating in honesty and ethics.

    Politicians lie, steal, and cheat, and more and more, people are not believing that those running in elections, or functioning in government roles, are doing so out of a sense of duty or service to the people or the community.

    At best, political candidates usually appear to be dupes, motivated primarily by self interest, and vulnerable later to bribery, and pressure from special interests.

    Locally, I would say, the majority of people do not perceive that their lives will be affected in any positive way by the election of one candidate over the other. They will all pretty much yeild the same result. More debt, more taxes, more bureaucracy, more stupid schemes to try to generate more revenue that will hurt our community in the long run...

    Not much to get out and vote for there.

    Most of those who do vote are voting for the candidate likely to do the least harm.

    Most who vote on a national scale do so out of a belief that the left is a better choice over the right or vice versa, and will blindly vote for what ever candidate is offered.

    It's pretty simple I think, if there were any inspiring candidates to vote for, more people would vote... But the catch is, there also has to be a belief that the system is not so far gone that good candidates can make it to the top, and actually win.

    This would necessitate some drastic changes in the way elections are funded and run.

  2. Admittedly, if often seems that voting is a waste of one's time. However, not voting means that one has capitulated to the forces that demean the process and appear dedicated to placing fools and/or thieves in elected office.

    I haven't given up yet.

  3. I am a former Republican and now vote for Libertarians or Independents as Republicans are just as bad as Democrats. To make a change, we have to start at the local level as that is the only way I see to change the system. The parties in power, both the Democarts and Republicans will not embrace term limits as they are addicted to the perks, power and all the trappings. The only avenue left to us is to vote locally choosing a third party candidate. Our picks will then someday percolate up into offices to change the system to allow for a 3rd party. The Libertarians are having small success with this. Our government is a mess but it's still the best mess on the planet.

  4. I look at voting as entry level pre-requisite. I actually did tend bar quite a while. when discussions would verge into the political, I would usually ask, "Did you vote?". If the answer was no, I have been known to tell a patron to change subjects, talk about football or mothers-in-law. but voting is your license to bitch.

    Voting also opens the door to being involved in Part primaries. Legally, anyone can bring a case before City Council, County Commissioners or any committee thereof, but if it becomes known one has not bothered to vote the attention granted seriously degrades.

    It is not necessary to make politics a full-time hobby to have some degree of influence. Call or write representatives (small case) at any level of gov't; spend a few minutes online just scanning agendas so you know what the local body is considering. San Angelo is really good on both website and holding physical meetings.

    Think we need more sidewalks? Did you go to any of the meetings taking public comment? Ditto stormwater, ditto capital improvements. I may have shamed Council and staff into the Bell St. paving project just by mentioning it as a failure of communication every chance I got.

    Point is, there are all sorts of ways an individual can influence the gov't under which we live by getting involved and making noise. Sure ain't money alone, I don't have any to spare. I will tell you this, it starts with voting, keys to the kingdom people, if you will use them wisely.

    You won't win them all, sometimes you will lose more than win. I still like an old Mark Twain story about a fellow in a goldrush casino. "Don't you know the game is rigged"? Yeah I do, but it's the only game in town and you can't win if you don't play.

    Local politics are as clean a game now as I have ever seen. Took a long time to get to this point. Don't waste the chance; come on in the water's fine.