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Pondering the Puzzlement

Only 15% of eligible voters voted?

Jack Deatherage, Jr.

(11/1) Only 15% of eligible voters in Emmitsburg's latest election bothered to vote? I'm shocked it was that many. I admit I wasn't among the 15% and I probably had as good an excuse as the other 85 percenters who didn't bother to vote. Thinking back to election day I can't say I was aware of it being any day other than a workday, until I noticed a small sign, or bag over a parking meter (can't recall which now) proclaiming there was a town election. Really? I wondered who was running and for what. Given I see most local elections as popularity contests and I often cast a blank ballot, I managed to miss this election as I had more important business to attend that day.

So what's the big deal?

Locally it seldom matters, to me, who is running the town so long as it is run. County, state and nationally? Well those elections tend to have more of an effect on my life, usually not to my benefit either. I vote in those elections. From what I hear that makes me a 25 percenter most years. And that gives me pause.

If the majority of eligible voters leave it to me and the other 25 percenters to decide who proposes and votes on laws, raises taxes and all the other liberty/wealth stealing ventures our various governments get involved inů well that explains a lot. Among those who bother to vote, I am in the minority. I want government small and mostly out of my life. I want elected office holders at the federal level to abide by the Constitution and its amendments- as they were written, not as some people think they should have been written. I want them to appoint people to unelected offices who will also abide by those restraints. (The "hope and change" the founding fathers created was a document to control government, they had just survive the tyranny of a king, they planned to prevent such a disgrace from occurring in the new nation they were building.) That places me very much in the minority of voters today. I suspect I'm really a 5 percenter- one pulling the wagon everyone else is trying to get a ride in.

Consider the 25 percenters- government employees and people making their living off government contracts. Social Security recipients, schoolteachers, unionists, minorities (of any stripe), corporations looking for favors for the "support" they give both parties. People hoping the government will "fix" whatever is wrong in their lives, and the Party faithful, followed closely by the ideological fanatics. And me.

Given what I see happening on the national level, I have to wonder why missing an unimportant town election bothers me enough to write about it. Puzzling this one out wasn't too difficult.

I became eligible to vote in 1972. I didn't bother to do so before 1992. Disgust with the entire political system was probably the biggest excuse I had for not registering to vote. In reality, I didn't want to bother with learning the intricacies of politics. I've struggled ever since to cast a ballot in every election I'm eligible for. Being a creature of habit, missing a few elections (even mind numbingly boring ones like the last town election) could easily lead me to skipping a primary. Presidential primaries are already tortures for me as the candidate I usually want to vote for has long since quit the race before Maryland votes. Missing a primary would quickly lead to my skipping a general election.

Missing general elections is not an option. I'm among the few who bother to vote! The people I talk to, who also vote, scare the hell out of me. I realized we, as a nation, have become what some Israeli leader (back in the 60s) predicted we would be when we realized we could vote to not work and live off those who do.

I may end up casting blank ballots in every election from this day forward. But cast a ballot I will until we finally have a government that no longer needs our bothering to vote for it. People's get what they deserve.

Read other articles by Jack Deatherage, Jr.