Monday, October 3, 2016
Week of 10/03/2016
Voter Registration Is Not Enough!
It’s around this time of the perpetual election season that I hear about the continual push for voter registration.
“Have you registered yet? You need to! I’ve registered! Have you? You have to! Your friends need to register too! Everyone needs to register!”
And the annoying thing about this time of the perpetual election season is that there are so many different ways and places to supposedly register. You go renew your driver’s license, and you get asked if you want to register to vote. You go pay the water bill and you get asked if you want to register to vote. It’s gotten to the point where you can’t even get a chicken biscuit without someone with a clipboard wanting to know if you’ve registered to vote!
And you have all of these groups that are so frigging proud of how many people they’ve registered, like they expect to win a free trip to Disneyland for their efforts. Or at least a free toaster. Or bus fare. Or maybe a shirt that says “I registered half the state and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.”
And then, after the registration push, is the political hype. “Oh this is going to be a different election! We have so many people registered to vote now! We’ve set a new registration record this time around! We’re going to change the face of politics with this election! We can feel it! We know it’s going to happen! Look at all of these people who were motivated to register to vote!”
Big. Flipping. Deal.
Here’s the problem... you know all of those people that you’ve registered to vote? Turns out, they don’t actually vote!
All of that effort, all of those programs, all of the various ways and drives to get people to register to vote, they ultimately mean nothing if all of those people don’t follow through and actually show up at the voting places to vote!
I actually saw that here in Georgia just two years ago. The Democrats here in this state went on a big voter registration push to get all of the various demographics that they supposedly support to register to vote, and then they made a big stinking deal about the tens-if-not-hundreds of thousands of “new voters” being registered. And their pollsters factored it all in and they told the public that the status quo was in for a serious kick in the nuts this time around. They were going to match the GOP’s self-righteous bible-thumping voting block this time around, if not surpass them. Especially for the big positions like the governor and U.S. Senate! This was going to be a horserace, folks! We could even see a few run-off elections because of this!
Turned out it was a landslide for the GOP. The pollsters weren’t just wrong... they were housing bubble “Big Short” wrong!
So what the hell happened?
Simple. All of those people that registered to vote... never did show up to vote!
All of that effort to get people to vote, all of the work that was done to supposedly “energize the constituents” and get them “engaged in the political system”, ended up doing absolutely jack squat! But, hey, at least the really eager volunteers who busted their asses and went above-and-beyond to register all of those people got that free Disneyland trip... or T-shirt... or at least a pat on the back. And that’s important too, right?
No, it’s not. It’s a waste, and you all damned well know it!
Let’s get brutally honest here... voter registration means absolutely nothing if you cannot follow up with those people showing up in the voting booths to actually vote! What good is having tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of supposedly “new voters” registered to vote if they don’t bother to vote afterward? It’s like paying for a gym card and then not bothering to show up to actually use it!
Don’t get me wrong; voter registration does play an important role in voting. But just being registered to vote does not make you a voter. Voting makes you a voter! When you actually go to the polling place and you tell the clerk your name and she checks your name with the registration roll, and then hands you a voting ballot or a computer card so you can go into that booth and cast your ballot, that completes the whole process. That is when the registration effort really pays off. Everything before that is just speculation. It’s empty without the action!
This is where all of those social groups fail with their voter registration efforts. They plan for the registration part, but they don’t follow through with getting those people to the ballot box. You have their information. At the very least, you need to use that information to coordinate transporting those newly-registered people to those voting booths. Don’t expect them to instantly know where the polling places are. If they were concerned about voting beforehand, they’d be doing the registration all by themselves and finding out where the polling places are without you.
And that’s the part that bothers me as well. If the groups behind the massive efforts at voter registration aren’t really concerned about getting the voters to the polls, then why do they have that information in the first place? Mailing lists are very valuable to certain businesses and special interest groups. I’d be suspicious about who would end up with my information after I put my name down on your clipboard so you could win that free Disneyland trip or cheap T-shirt.
It’s good to know that certain groups care about getting everyone eligible to vote to actually fulfill their obligation, but the half-assed ways some of these groups are handling the process makes me wonder what the ultimate agenda is. Too many groups in America consider the election process to be nothing more than a big frigging game to be manipulated, and unfortunately we are the ones that pay the price for that game. That’s how we ended up with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as major candidates this time around. If you really want that to change, then we all need to stop playing games with the process.