Thursday, Mar 29, 2012
"Exercise Your Right To Vote"
Exercise Your Right to Vote
By Lieutenant Governor Mark A. Darr
In the 2010 primary election, only 29% of registered voters exercised their right to vote in Arkansas. In the general election that year, with more than 1.6 million registered voters in Arkansas, only 47.6% (779,957) voted. According to the 2010 Census, there were 2,204,443 Arkansans over the age of 18. That means only 35% of people over 18 voted in 2010.
On May 22, another primary election will be held to determine each party's nominees for the general election in November. Non-partisan judicial candidates will also be on the ballot.
We often take our vote for granted in this country. Guaranteeing the right to vote for all citizens has caused great turmoil throughout our country's history and has required several amendments to the Constitution. Many people say they have lost faith in our political system. I understand their frustration, but just being frustrated won't fix anything. You have to do something about it. The citizens of this great state still hold the power when it comes to who they want to represent them. For our country to continue to be free, the people must continue to hold the government accountable. Voting is one of the most significant ways we can do that.
The problems in our government and our political system exist because too many people stopped caring. But, that trend can be reversed. Our election system offers many ways for citizens to become a part of the process in a meaningful way. If you are looking for ways to be more involved, sign up to work at a polling location or serve as an election observer. Find a candidate you like and volunteer to campaign for them or spread the word to people you know about an issue that you're concerned with. If you have kids, teach them about voting and consider taking them to the polls with you.
Voting is a simple thing, but a powerful thing. This American right has inspired millions all over the world. For us to ignore that right is to do a disservice to those who have fought for it.
Our country is a nation of laws. We pride ourselves in the United States on being governed by the rule of law, not by the whims of a dictator or some other unelected body. We have seen for decades in countries like Cuba and Syria that dictatorial systems of government often stage elections and claim victory even though it is obvious that vote fraud is being committed. Though we do not live in a dictatorship, our system is susceptible to fraud as well and that should concern all citizens who want free and fair elections.
Our election system should be a model of voting efficiency and accuracy. To ensure this, we need a voter identification law in Arkansas. There are those who will say this is discriminatory and will somehow oppress certain voters. I would not advocate for such a law if I thought that were the case.
Nowadays, we have to show a photo ID to do things far less consequential than voting. For example, you can't cash a check or rent a car without showing photo ID, and before Redbox and Netflix, you couldn't even rent a movie.
Critics will say that those things are not constitutionally guaranteed, but voting is. I certainly respect the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, but all of those have been subject to additional regulations through legislation, for better or for worse.
Due to our legislative system in Arkansas, I know that such a law can't be introduced until the next legislature is seated in 2013, but I hope this will be an issue that is discussed throughout this election season and that people will see the need for its implementation.
I encourage you to fill out a voter registration form if you have not done so before. To be eligible to vote in the upcoming primary election on May 22, you must be registered by April 23. Doing nothing has never changed anything. So, get out and vote!
Last Friday marked the two-year anniversary of the passage of the federal healthcare law. I have been and remain steadfastly opposed to this legislation. This week, the United States Supreme Court will conduct a three day review to determine its constitutionality. I hope that the Court will uphold its responsibility as a check against the other two branches of government and strike down this overreaching legislation.