Exercising your right to vote

Updated: Friday, November 8, 2013
Exercising your right to vote story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Although there has been a lot said and written about Tuesday's elections--about the issues, about the candidates, about who won, the sad fact is that these matters are being decided by fewer and fewer voters almost every year.

Tonight, in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe says it should be a high priority to find a way to reconnect voters to the ballot box.

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It's a given that off-year elections don't have the sex appeal of a Presidential battle with Congressional seats at stake.

But this is getting a little scary.

In Kalamazoo: okay, the ballot was boring. But 13 percent? That's really all we care?

In Jackson, election officials were pretty excited because 18 percent turned out to elect a Mayor and decriminalize marijuana.

Six months from now when somebody who didn't vote starts complaining—and they will—you have the authority to turn your back or cover your ears. It's maddening.

And its not just here. After 43 years of really horrible criminal leadership, the city of Detroit elected a new Mayor. Someone to lead them out of the quagmire of bankruptcy into a new day. Only one in four registered voters took the time. Twenty-five percent!

And as dismal as that might seem, it's not that bad in comparison with other cities. New York City—22 percent. In 1950 it was 93 percent.

Atlanta, 17 percent. Pittsburgh, 20 percent. Miami, a measly 11 percent. How low do we go before we just cancel them for lack of interest?

In Virginia, where they actually elected a Governor, where the result was hailed as a victory over the tea party, only 37 percent bothered.

A recent study on voter attitudes said they think their votes don't count, and that anyway they're just too busy or they just don't care.

We are the United States of America. Millions of men have been wounded or killed in battle protecting our highly vaunted right to choose our own destiny. And we're too busy? We don't care? We're just too apathetic to take the time?

Granted, voting can be inconvenient. But it ought to be considered an honor. True, some candidates are insufferable.

But the only way to get them out is to vote them out. And to do that you have to get off your butt and cast your vote.

For the record, annual turnout for nationwide elections in Demark is 85 percent. In the Netherlands it's 75 to 80 percent. In the UK it's 66 percent. And here in the United States, the best we can muster in even the most frenetic national election is 65 percent.

So here's an idea.

Our choice of a Tuesday in early November as Election Day came about roughly 170 years ago when farmers had harvested their crops, could go to church on Sunday, and then make the often day-long trip into the cities to cast their votes.

It made sense then—but not anymore.

So, how about a two or three-day Election Day holiday? Turn it into an event; a time for last minute debate.

A time for celebrating what we do here; a time to allow no one an excuse for not getting down to the precinct and  marking a ballot.

We have to do something to reconnect with voters. Or we will become a government of, by, and for just a few of the people. We're on our way their now.

In this corner...I'm Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on August 28, 2015 17:24 GMT

FED-RATES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer says that incoming economic data and market developments will likely determine whether the Fed boosts interest rates in September.

Fischer says that before the recent turbulence in financial markets, there was a "pretty strong case" for starting to hike rates in September. But he adds that the Fed is watching how events unfold following the surprise announcement by the Chinese that they plan to devalue their currency.

Fischer says that central bank officials have not made a decision yet on whether to raise rates but would be closely following data such as next week's jobs report and market moves before the Sept. 16-17 meeting.

Fischer said the plan is still to move rates up very slowly and gradually.

CONSUMER SPENDING

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumers increased their spending by a moderate amount in July, while income growth was propelled by the largest jump in wages and salaries in eight months.

The Commerce Department says spending rose 0.3 percent in July, helped by a big jump in purchases of big-ticket items such as cars. June's result was revised up to a matching 0.3 percent gain.

Incomes increased 0.4 percent. The key category of wages and salaries rose 0.5 percent, the biggest advance since last November.

The report indicates that consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of economic activity, got off to a good start in the third quarter. Economists believe the economy will be fueled in the second half of this year by solid income and spending gains.

CONSUMER SENTIMENT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Plummeting stock prices have taken a toll on U.S. consumer confidence, though there are signs the setback may be temporary.

The University of Michigan says its consumer sentiment index fell to 91.9 this month from 93.1 in July. The index is still up 11.4 percent from a year ago.

The figures provide an early read of the impact on consumers from the 1,900 point drop in the Dow Jones industrial average over six days through Tuesday. Stock prices have since recovered some of those losses.

The University of Michigan surveys consumers throughout the month and so some of the responses were tallied as the stock market plunged.

Even so, the survey also found that Americans remain confident about the U.S. economy and their personal finances.

FACEBOOK-ONE BILLION A DAY

NEW YORK (AP) -- You, your mom, your grandma and elementary school buddy Lawrence might have been some of the billion people who logged in to Facebook on Monday -- the first time that has happened in a single day. That's right, one billion people, or one-seventh of the Earth's population.

It was a big symbolic milestone for the world's biggest online social network, which boasts nearly 1.5 billion users who log in at least once a month. CEO Mark Zuckerberg marked the occasion with a Facebook post.

Most of the billion people who logged in on Monday were outside the U.S. and Canada. Of Facebook's overall users, more than 83 percent come from other countries. This is also where Facebook's next billions of users will likely come from as it grows.

CHEATING WEBSITE-CEO

NEW YORK (AP) -- The CEO of adultery website Ashley Madison is stepping down in the wake of the massive breach of the company's computer systems and outing of millions of its members.

Avid Life Media Inc., Ashley Madison's parent company, says Noel Biderman's departure was a mutual decision and in the best interest of the company.

Hackers originally breached Avid Life's systems in July and then posted the information online a month later after the company didn't comply with their demands to shut down.

Ashley Madison, whose slogan is "Life is short. Have an affair," purports to have nearly 40 million members.

GOP 2016-TRUMP-TAXES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is promising to offer a plan within a month to overhaul the tax system, calling himself "king of the tax code."

He's been hinting at such a plan recently, saying that wealthy Americans should pay more.

In a phone-in interview Friday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" show, Trump says, "I know the hedge fund guys. ... These guys don't really build anything. They shuffle papers back and forth."

Trump says he'll unveil a plan to simplify the tax code and eliminate some deductions, asserting "nobody knows the tax code better than I do."

Trump says hedge fund managers are big supporters of Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton and GOP rival Jeb Bush and adds, "I will have a plan."

He says hedge fund managers won't be happy.

PENTAGON-TECHNOLOGY

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP) -- Defense Secretary Ash Carter is announcing that the Pentagon will fund a new venture to develop cutting-edge electronics and sensors that can flex and stretch and could be built into clothing or the skins of ships and aircraft.

The high-tech investment could lead to wearable health monitors that could be built into military uniforms or used to assist the elderly. Or it could foster thin, bendable sensors that could be tucked into cracks or crevices on weapons, ships or bridges where bulky wiring could never fit. The sensors could telegraph structural problems or trigger repair alerts.

Carter plans to lay out the details for the newly created high-tech innovation institute in a speech Friday in California's Silicon Valley.

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