The League of Women Voters is dedicated to encouraging and educating citizens so that they can vote with confidence about their issues and their preferred candidates. And so it is disconcerting to the League, and to many other voter advocacy organizations, to know that the majority of the citizens in 41 out of our 50 states did not vote in the 2016 election; that is, the candidate “Did Not Vote” won in more than four-fifths of the United States. Washington was one of those 41 states.
Democracy survives only among citizens who are vigilant in exercising the rights that this amazing form of government allows. Power hates a vacuum. There is no such thing as an empty chair, if that chair bestows power. Failure to vote enables the worst of political players to fill the chairs of power, and it augurs the end of democracy. If enough people do not vote, we will lose the vote. Use it, or, over time, lose it.
Some people offer up excuses about this political enervation: The politicians are corrupt, our government is broken, and so the voting process is irrelevant. These complaints are understandable because of the voter suppression and gerrymandering that have manifested during election cycles recently in other regions of the country. The League has vigorously opposed these acts. There is the whiff of illegitimacy under these circumstances. But here is the point. These acts do not happen in Washington State. There is no voter suppression, and no manipulated voting ID cards. Except for a past and changing 8th district controversy, there is no gerrymandering. Washington allows for a vigorous exchange between the citizens and their representatives during the election cycles – and at all times in the year. Our representatives have been generally accessible to their voters year round. Washington allows on-line voter registration, and has mail-in paper ballots, making electronic hacking less likely.
And so, please help your country get better. Act on your principles and with your hopes. Democracy will always be a fight, because democracy, by definition, is the people talking back to power. Talk back! Vote!
League of Women Voters of Clallam County