Exercising your right to vote

Updated: Thursday, November 7 2013, 09:25 PM EST
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.
Exercising your right to vote
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Last Update on April 17, 2014 17:08 GMT

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of people applying for U.S. unemployment benefits last week rose 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 304,000. Jobless claims continue to be near pre-recession levels despite the slight increase.

The Labor Department says that the four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, fell 4,750 to 312,000. That is the lowest four-week average since October 2007, just two months before the Great Recession started. The average has fallen by 53,500 applications over the past 12 months.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. The current level of claims suggests that employers are holding on their workers with the expectation of stronger economic growth ahead.

Employers added 192,000 jobs in March and 197,000 in February, the Labor Department reported. Hiring has picked up after a slowdown caused by severe winter weather.

MORTGAGE RATES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell this week for the second straight week as the spring home-buying season begins.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate for the 30-year loan fell to 4.27 percent from 4.34 percent last week. The average for the 15-year mortgage eased to 3.33 percent from 3.38 percent.

Mortgage rates have risen about a full percentage point since hitting record lows about a year ago.

Many analysts have been expecting an improving economy to lift the housing market, which has been recovering over the past two years. But housing has struggled to maintain momentum. Rising home prices and higher mortgage rates have held back some potential home buyers. Others have had trouble qualifying for mortgages.

EARNS-GOLDMAN SACHS

NEW YORK (AP) -- Investment bank Goldman Sachs says its first-quarter earnings fell as fixed income trading slumped.

The bank earned $1.9 billion in the quarter, down 11 percent from the same period a year earlier when it made $2.2 billion.

The earnings were equivalent to $4.02 a share. Analysts polled by FactSet had predicted earnings of $3.49 a share.

Revenue totaled $9.3 billion, down 8 percent from a year earlier, when the bank generated revenue of $10.1 billion. The latest quarterly revenue beat analysts' expectations of $8.7 billion.

Goldman's stock rose $2.78, or 1.8 percent, to $160 in pre-market trading.

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NEW YORK (AP) -- PepsiCo reports a stronger-than-expected first-quarter profit as the company slashed costs and sold more snacks around the world.

The company, which makes Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Mountain Dew and Tropicana, says global snack volume rose 2 percent while beverages were even from a year ago.

In its closely watched North American beverage unit, PepsiCo Inc. says volume was even. Growth in other drinks offset a 1 percent decline in sodas.

For the quarter, the company earned $1.22 billion, or 79 cents per share. Not including one-time items, it earned 83 cents per share, above the 75 cents per share Wall Street expected.

A year ago, it earned $1.08 billion, or 69 cents per share.

Revenue edged up to $12.62 billion, higher than the $12.39 billion analysts expected.

EARNS-MATTEL

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) -- Toy maker Mattel says weak sales of Barbie and markdowns to clear out excess inventory left over from a sluggish holiday season led to an unexpected first-quarter loss.

Toy makers are facing a weak environment globally due to the uncertain economy and popularity of electronic gadgets.

The largest U.S. toy maker says its net loss for the three months ended March 31 totaled $11.2 million, or 3 cents per share. That compares with net income of $38.5 million, or 11 cents per share last year. Analysts expected earnings of 7 cents per share.

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NEW YORK (AP) -- Target is vastly expanding the goods that are available to order by subscription as it fends off its biggest non-traditional retail rival, Amazon.com.

The nation's second-largest discounter first dabbled with subscriptions last September, trying to win over haggard parents with 150 baby care products.

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Target, based in Minneapolis, is playing catch up in the subscription arena, which has exploded as companies test consumer appetites for almost every niche, from socks to razors, to clothing and entertainment.

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