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 October 20, 2014 07:27 GMT

BUSINESS SURVEY

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A new business survey finds hiring is healthy but pay raises, not so much.

The quarterly survey by the National Association for Business Economics finds that only 24 percent of companies increased wages and salaries in the July-September quarter. That's down from 43 percent in the April-June quarter and the first drop after three straight increases.

Yet the firms still added jobs at a healthy pace, which usually pushes wages higher as employers compete for workers. The figures suggest that the number of people out of work remains high enough that companies aren't under any pressure to raise pay.

And just one-third of respondents said they expect their companies will boost wages in the October-December quarter.

The NABE surveyed 76 of its member economists in late September

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

UNDATED (AP) -- Investors will have many more corporate earnings reports to look at this week.

Apple will report third quarter financial results today after the market closes.

Tomorrow, Coca-Cola, Reynolds American, Verizon Communications and McDonald's will report earnings before the market opens. Discover Financial Services and Yahoo will report results after the closing bell.

Also on Tuesday, the National Association of Realtors will release existing home sales for September.

SPRINT LAYOFFS

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) -- Sprint Corp. has cut 452 jobs from its Overland Park, Kansas, headquarters as part of a previously announced cost-cutting effort.

The nation's third-biggest cellphone carrier disclosed the layoffs in a filing with the Kansas Department of Commerce.

The report, which was filed Friday, covers the first installment of layoffs planned throughout October. The Kansas City Star reports that it doesn't cover any job losses outside the headquarters campus, although they are believed to be happening too.

The company said earlier this month in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it was cutting an unspecified number of jobs to better compete with AT&T and Verizon. Sprint said it would book a $160 million charge in its fiscal second quarter to cover the layoffs, which include managers as well as other employees. It may take more charges for future job cuts.

Another 477 Sprint employees in Overland Park were laid off earlier this year, bringing this year's job cut total to 929

Before the newly disclosed layoffs, about 7,500 worked for Sprint in the Kansas City area.

BOX OFFICE

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The bloody World War II drama "Fury" blew past "Gone Girl" at theaters this weekend.

"Gone Girl" was tops at the box office for two weeks before Brad Pitt and his rag-tag group of tank mates in "Fury" blasted the film to second place.

According to studio estimates Sunday, Sony's "Fury" captured $23.5 million in ticket sales during its opening weekend. Fox's "Gone Girl" followed with $17.8 million.

Two other new movies landed in the top five: The animated Fox feature "The Book of Life" opened in third place with $17 million; and Relativity's Nicholas Sparks romance "The Best of Me" debuted in fifth place with $10.2 million.

Disney's "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" placed fourth, dropping one spot since opening last weekend.

JAPAN-TRADE MINISTER RESIGNS

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan's trade minister has announced her resignation after allegations that she violated election laws.

Yuko Obuchi's resignation on Monday is the first for the current administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and could dent his efforts to raise the profile of women both in politics and business.

The questions over Obuchi's use of election funds are the latest in a series of uproars over activities by some members of Abe's Cabinet. Obuchi is one of five women Abe appointed to Cabinet-level posts in a reshuffle last month that highlighted his commitment to promoting women to leadership positions.

GERMANY-ECONOMY

BERLIN (AP) -- Germany's finance minister says he's confident he can keep promises to balance the budget next year and is rejecting anew suggestions that the country should borrow to finance greater public investment.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is determined to stick to plans to get by without new borrowing next year for the first time since 1969, though Germany's growth outlook has weakened and Berlin faces calls from abroad to pump money into the economy.

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble acknowledged in Sunday's Welt am Sonntag newspaper that Germany "must invest more and improve our competitiveness." But he added: "We just don't want growth on credit."

Schaeuble said it's important to keep to promises and says he's confident a balanced budget can be achieved because "tax income doesn't react so quickly to economic changes."

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