Go vote now
Published 6:00 am Tuesday, November 6, 2018
Today is the day to vote, and we hope Boyle County, Kentucky and the country all make modern history by doing so in impressive numbers.
Email newsletter signup
For all our talk about America being the global symbol of democracy, our actual commitment to the basic unit of democracy — the vote — is woefully lacking. The U.S. has topped 60-percent voter turnout in the general election only 11 times in the last 100 years of elections, according to data from FairVote.org. That means about once every decade, enough Americans bother to vote that we’d get a “D” instead of an “F” if voting was a class assignment.
The U.S. was ranked 26th in the world for voter turnout amongst developed democratic states, according to a May article from the Pew Research Center. Even if you don’t count democracies where voting is compulsory, the U.S. was 22nd at 55.7 percent. That ranking doesn’t just put us behind other “big names” in Democracy like France (67.9 percent), Canada (62.1 percent), Germany (69.1 percent), South Korea (77.9 percent) and the United Kingdom (63.2 percent). It puts us behind Hungary (71.6 percent), Estonia (56.8 percent), Slovakia (59.4 percent), the Czech Republic (63.4 percent) and New Zealand (75.6 percent).
We’re nowhere near the leaders in voting of Belgium (87.2 percent, compulsory voting) and Sweden (82.6 percent, non-compulsory voting).
Here in Boyle County, we can do our part to repair the country’s voting reputation by at least breaking our own record in recent decades. In the last general election in 2016, 61 percent of Boyle County voters actually voted. In 2015 — an off-year when people think it’s OK to skip voting for some reason — our turnout was 34.6 percent. In 2014, it wasn’t much better — just 46.3 percent — and in 2012 (another presidential election year) it was 61.5.
Looking back at Boyle’s voter turnout in presidential election years, when turnout is usually strongest, our best year in the last 34 years was 1992, when 72.9 percent of registered voters voted. It would be great if we could top that this year, when there’s no president on the ballot but almost everyone has one reason or another to be amped up and excited to vote.
Nationally, Democrats want to take control of the House and maybe even the Senate; Republicans want to block such a “Blue Wave.” At the state level, teachers are looking to send Gov. Matt Bevin a message. Locally, both major parties are heavily involved in most races and energetic about their candidates.
If we can’t manage to get out the vote this time, it creates serious questions about our commitment to democracy.