A nationwide movement is underway. This movement has several facets. One facet is to increase the number of registered voters. Another is to increase voting participation among those who are already registered.
A Pew Research report from 2006 shows that older, richer, white voters vote in higher percentages than younger, poorer, non-white voters.
Percentage means that out of 100 from each category, more old, rich, white people vote than other groups of people. Why does this matter? If you are old, rich, and white, you are quite happy. The Legislature listens to those who vote. Issues that pertain to old, rich, white people get attention.
Those for the young, poor and people of color get less attention, fewer votes, less chance of becoming law.
In the last general election, less than 30 percent of registered voters voted in Hidalgo County. How can this be explained in an election that had such a radical consequence?
Hidalgo County is a poor, non-white area. Locally it is a one-party county.
Few Republicans are ever elected here. So, you can vote Democrat and it won’t change the election results locally. You can vote Republican and it won’t change election results either. Even in the presidential election this is true. Texas being strongly Republican means that it’s electoral votes will go to the Republican no matter how you vote. So, your vote doesn’t count, right?
The answer is yes, and no. You may not be able to change who is elected but, by raising your voice, your vote will impact how people listen to your
ideas and issues. If people in your group, (no one fits in a single group, we all have multiple interests and issues) voted more frequently, your issues would rank higher in the issues that our representatives listen to and vote for.
The Pew Research Report found more men vote than women. If you want to advance women’s issues, more women need to vote. Fewer Hispanic people vote than any other group. If you want Dreamers to be allowed to stay in the United States, more Hispanics need to vote. If you want Medicaid expanded to cover more poor people, poor people need to vote.
If you don’t vote, you are part of the “silent majority.” No matter what you think, politicians will invoke your opinion to support their ideas because you haven’t spoken up. If you don’t vote, you are part of the majority of eligible voters. If you voted, there would be no silent majority.
Who am I to tell you to vote? I am Thomas Butler, an old, rich, white man. I vote in every election. I served in the military and am a veteran of the Vietnam War. I served so you could vote. You live in a country that gives every person over 18 the right to vote. That is something that many people in the world can’t do. Even in countries where there is voting, many people aren’t free to vote. Here everyone is allowed to vote, no one is told how to vote, when you enter the voting booth, no one is looking over your shoulder.
If you are proud to be an U.S. citizen then go vote. If you smile when you see the red, white and blue of the U.S. flag then go vote. If you support veterans then vote. Early voting starts today. Election day is March 3.
Go vote or forever hang your head in shame.
Thomas Butler, Edinburg