Voting in the 2012 General Election starts tomorrow. You will have three weeks to cast your vote, including two opportunities to vote on Saturday, in addition to having the ability to cast your vote on Election Day, November 6. For those who don't want to go to the polls, you can vote from your mailbox by requesting an absentee ballot. No reason is required.
So, with all these voting options available, why won't local voter turnout be 100%?
According to the Georgia Secretary of State, voter turnout in Muscogee County for the November 4, 2008 General Election was 62.91%, an unprecedented number that we have not seen since.
However, even at almost 63% turnout, close to four out of every 10 registered voters in Columbus chose not to cast a ballot in the 2008 Presidential Election.
I cannot think of a reason not to vote. So seeing that almost 40% of the registered voters in my hometown chose not to vote in a presidential election is mind-boggling to me. I always want to be heard, even if my voice is in the minority. The expression of my opinion in and of itself is reason enough to go to the polls.
Elections matter. Your vote matters. Giving up your vote voluntarily is reckless at worst and negligent at best. We can, and must, do better.
In various studies, voter turnout in the United States always ranks near the bottom when compared to other democratic countries around the globe. I can't believe that voters in the United States have fewer reasons to engage the voting process than citizens in Canada and Australia whose turnout averages 70% and 96% respectively. Americans always strive to be the best. We should strive to be the best at voting, too.
And the movement for the United States to lead the world in voter turnout should start right here in Columbus, Ga. Tomorrow, go vote. Tuesday, call someone and remind them to vote. Wednesday, make sure everyone in your family has voted. Thursday, ask your poker buddies if they voted. Friday, encourage your co-workers to vote. Saturday, take some to vote. Next week, rinse and repeat.
Elections are important. This election feels particularly important. Regardless which candidates you choose, cast your ballot. Let's set a new standard for voter turnout in Columbus. A government that governs 100% of the people should hear from 100% of the voters. When that becomes the rule and not the exception, we will all be better served.
Karl Douglass, Columbus native and resident, is a frequent commenter on local, state and federal politics. Follow him on Twitter@KarlDouglass or facebook.com/karldouglass.