When this article goes to print, it will have been 74 days or 10 weeks since the Pulse Nightclub mass shooting. There are people who will forever live with the pain of a loved one who is no longer alive. The pain of seeing friends and neighbors gunned down. The pain of dealing every day facing a community to help them cope, while you yourself have seen the worst of what life could put in front of you. No matter who you talk to about it or how often, it doesn’t go away. It’s something people will live with for the rest of their lives.
Why do I bring this up again? In the face of tragedy, people step forward in many ways. Some do it because they feel it’s the right thing to do. Some do it to feel good. Sadly, some do it to look good. When the tragedy quiets down, so do some good intentions. Since June 13th, a group of people have been relentless about reminding people Love Always Wins. At the first “rally,” there were over 100 people present–some say as many as 150–to show their love for and stand in solidarity with Orlando. Here we are, some ten weeks later and the group has been averaging 20 persons.
I realize the majority of us have jobs, have full plates, and find “me time” very important. But where has everyone gone? No matter, as long as people show up, the rally will too.
Speaking of finding time –
Early voting began this past Saturday, August 20th at 10:00 a.m. and ends this coming Sunday, August 28th at 7:00 p.m. for the Florida primary. Voting day is Tuesday, August 30th. Then Tuesday, November 8th is General Election & Municipal Elections.
These statistics are from the Broward Supervisor of Elections website (http://www.browardsoe.org) from the 2016 Presidential Preference Primary as of 03/25/2016 5:30:54 pm:
Registered Voters: 824,135 / Ballots Cast: 298,664 / Voter Turnout: 36.24%
36.24%? Really? What goes through people’s minds to keep them from voting?
Zencollegelife.com lists “The 7 Reasons Most Americans Don’t Vote”:
- They think their vote won’t count
- Too busy
- Registration requirements
- Lines are too long
- Don’t like the candidates
- Can’t get to the polls
To me, voting is a right, a privilege AND a responsibility. Every person who doesn’t feel the same way and doesn’t vote should be ashamed. No matter how one feels about the process, no matter what the results are of any election, we as U.S. citizens are allowed to have our voices heard. Passing up the opportunity to cast a vote is beyond comprehension of many. Why does it appear that some of the biggest complainers and hard-core whiners are the ones who don’t vote?
According to The NSW Electoral Commission in Australia, there are consequences for not voting (in part) [ https://www.elections.nsw.gov.au/voting/penalties_for_not_voting ]
“Penalties for not Voting: The penalty for failing to vote at a State election or Local Government election is $55.00. Penalty payments are remitted to the NSW Treasury and not retained by the NSW Electoral Commission.”
Are penalties what it would take for people to get to the polls here in the US? Personally, I’d like to see some penalty for not voting in a Federal election. I’m just that serious when it comes to casting a ballot. Unless you’re near death’s door, or have some unfortunate crisis that prohibits you from absentee voting or will take you past the length of early voting days or the main day to vote, THERE IS NO EXCUSE NOT TO VOTE.
I look forward to seeing the Broward County primary numbers by the time my next column comes out. Will it beat 36.24%? Lord, I hope so.
As I get older, I get more frustrated at those who seem to always want to leave it up to others to fight a cause, elect the people who make decisions in our lives or doing things for others. The days of the “It’s not my job” outlook on things needs to become the past. Times have changed and so must we.
I leave you with the words of Paddy Ashdown: “It’s not my job to be popular. I’m goal-driven; my job is to get results.”
Rev. Joel S. Slotnick is an ordained interfaith minister and full time digital court reporter. He can be found on Facebook and followed on Twitter.