During the presidential election, I heeded the call of one of the
progressive groups I associate myself with and volunteered to work
at the polls for the election. My county election board had no need
for workers for the election. There was a glut of individuals willing
to "work for change".
Fast forward to the primary election just completed on 21 May 2009.
Let me begin my remarks with a personal assessment of the
significance of primary elections. If there is a chance for fundamental
change in the governance of the country, it will come as a result of
citizens actively engaging in the electoral process at the ground level.
Electing people at the municipal, county, state, and national levels
who represent their opinions about the direction of the country. The
newly elected president made it clear that the change he was talking
about requires a major change in the behaviors of the citizens of the
country. Taking ownership of the process which is a hallmark of
People who stand for change must stand for office. People who
want change must come out to vote for those individuals. Otherwise,
as the political professionals already know, there will be no change.
I received a call in January that the county election board wanted my
services for the primary election in May because they had lost a
significant number of the individuals who volunteer their services for
elections. I accepted the responsibility of "judge of election" for my
precinct. The county professionals stated, in spite of the excitement,
energy, and interest generated during the presidential election, that
the turnout for this election would be less than 20% of eligible voters.
All the talk about taking on the responsibilities of citizenship from the
last election have been forgotten. It’s far easier to continue to complain
about those who are elected than taking on the responsibility of voting
them out of office during a primary election.
So, with a team of 3 other citizen volunteers in a precinct of 1870
registered voters, we counted the votes of 170 voters who actually
came out to vote. A local candidate who challenged the status quo
mirroring the message of the new president, lost. His opponent’s
only concern during the day was, "what’s the turnout".
The poll workers and I spent 16 hours working for our precinct and a
less than 10% turnout. We worked with less than a full complement
of poll workers because the professionals had it right. The citizens
of this small town returned to business as usual after the presidential
election. There will be little, if any, change because they will not change
what they do. The newly elected president has lost his "army for change".
Soon, they will be complaining that the change he promised to bring
about isn’t happening. And, they will do it with no recognition of their
failure to accept personal responsibility for their future.