For Your Consideration: Riffing the Vote

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Our newest column – by Janice Taylor – is her personal viewpoint of current issues and the City of SeaTac. It does not necessarily reflect the views of The SeaTac Blog nor its staff. We are seeking additional regular columnists to reflect different opinions and views of SeaTac residents. Those interested can e-mail us at [email protected].

by Janice Taylor

Get out your hip waders. It’s election time again.

Last week my neighbors and I received our King County Voter’s Pamphlets, and it got me thinking about the state of our Democratic system. My late husband, an Italian, used to say America got the government it deserved, in reference to our abysmally low voter turn-out compared to other developed countries. Diss Italy all you want, but 68.5% of their voting-age population casts ballots as opposed to the U.S.’s 53.6%.

But here’s where the numbers tell another story. In the U.S., 84.3% of registered voters vote as opposed to Italy’s 75.2%. Quite simply, this means more people here who have taken the time to register go on to exercise their voting right. They get involved. (Source cited below.)

In the past few years, we’ve seen a big push from both major political parties to get people registered because they are well aware of that 84.3% number and hope it will work for their side. Condoleezza Rice often relates the story of how her parents became Republicans. In Jim Crow-era Alabama, Democrats were in the majority. Rice’s educated, middle-class parents approached them first to register, only to be turned away for not meeting certain (illegal) criteria. The minority Republicans had no problem registering the Rices. Ms. Rice’s loyalty to the Republican Party in part stems from their treatment of her parents.

Getting folks registered should just be a good thing, but sadly, as most things politics touches, even that process has become tainted. Who gets to vote? Federal Law states non-citizens are NOT eligible to vote in this country. Yet only Arizona and Kansas have state laws that require voter applicants show proof of citizenship and, in a recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, those proof laws only apply to state elections. So, anyone who can provide a state ID can vote, U.S. citizen or not. In Washington State, the citizenship question is asked, accompanied by the “providing false information…is punishable…” warning – but zero proof – is required.

What I find insidious are the groups who knowingly approach our immigrant communities and register them without underscoring citizenship–a driver’s license is okay. These groups fancy they are serving a greater public good. They aren’t the ones who stand to get into trouble. The poor person breaking US law is. Such groups are alive and well in this area, empowered by the general open attitude of the population and proof omissions in state law.

I probably wouldn’t be so concerned if those groups were about getting residents, citizens or not, involved in their communities, but they’re not. They are all about pushing agendas. If community came first and foremost, ALL residents would be encouraged to register, not just targeted groups. It’s no secret the proponents of SeaTac’s flawed $15/hour minimum wage law concentrated on registering members of the communities whose members make up a large portion of airport workers—knowing full-well the City of SeaTac had no jurisdiction over labor matters of the Port of Seattle. The agenda made international headlines, but helped very few of the people who voted for it.

But I will not blame those voters. At least they went out and took part in the process. I blame more the people who don’t bother. Registering to vote is easier than making a purchase on Amazon, and voting today no longer requires a dedicated trip to the polling place. (I’m not a great fan of mail-in voting as I miss the pomp and circumstance of Voting Day, but it is easy.) I think if we want to get the agenda-pushers out of the process, we all need to encourage everyone to register. Coffee, computer, driver’s license, and it’s done. Make it a party. And if that 84.3% statistic holds true, think of the impact on our communities.

One final riff: Over the years, I have found the most vehement complainers of our governments actually do not vote. They say their votes won’t matter and why bother. As my husband would have pointed out, they got what they deserved.



One Response to “For Your Consideration: Riffing the Vote”
  1. chuck says:

    your husband was a wise man