The Times West Virginian

September 30, 2012

Will apathy again prevail in presidential election?


Times West Virginian

— In 1968, seven out of 10 West Virginia voters headed to the polls to cast their vote in the race of Richard M. Nixon and Democratic challenger Hubert Humphrey. Sadly, that’s the last time a clear majority of voters in the Mountain State made it out to the polls to help select our nation’s president.

Since then, the average number of registered voters who have gone to cast a vote is pretty much one out of two, or 50.8 percent. When it comes to helping select the leader of the nation, only having half your voters come out and make their voices heard is a pretty low percentage. And let’s not even talk about primary or special elections, which hover in the mid to low 20 percent range on a good election.

So is it fears that the vote doesn’t really matter? That can account for low turnout in primary presidential elections. The West Virginia primary date is so late in the primary race that the “winner” has already been determined before we head to the polls.

So is it apathy? Maybe.

This is a tough election coming up in a little more than a month.

President Barack Obama has a very poor approval rating — even more so in the Mountain State where his energy policy isn’t really resonating with a population that comes from coal mining stock. But GOP contender Mitt Romney isn’t doing too hot, either. Unless races further down the ballot are important to voters, we could face another pretty low turnout of voters come Nov. 6.

Political gaffes, cameras hidden during private speeches and aired on social media, flip flopping on issues and mudslinging just wear voters down, too. And that doesn’t take attack ads into account. And talking heads and pundits.

And a pretty lousy state of affairs, which leads to something more than apathy. It leads to frustration and the feeling that things will never change, no matter which guy you vote for.

And that’s why it’s even more important for people to get out and vote, to make their voice heard. It is a very powerful tool during a time when many people feel powerless. Show your support or lack thereof. But show up.

And our readers agree. Last week, we asked about whether voters would still head to the polls on our own online poll, which can be found at www.timeswv.com. The question was, “Voter apathy has been blamed for low voter turnout in the last several presidential elections. Where do you stand on going to the polls Nov. 6?”

And here are the results:

• I’m sick of it already. By Nov. 6, I’ll have no desire to cast a vote — 1.75 percent

• I’d be more apt to go if there was a “none-of-the-above” option — 10.53 percent

• I’m disappointed that no matter who I vote for, party leadership leads this country — 13.16 percent

• I believe in the power of my vote, and I will proudly cast it on Election Day — 74.56 percent

Now that’s a better voter turnout.

This week, let’s talk about school-age vaccinations, and how West Virginia is one of only two states that will not allow parents to opt out because of religious reasons if they want their child to attend public schools. Where do you stand with lawsuits across the state challenging the law?

Log on. Vote. Email me or respond directly online.

Misty Poe

Managing Editor

mpoe@timeswv.com

@MistyPoeTWV