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.


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 November 30, 2015 08:28 GMT


WASHINGTON (AP) -- After a quiet trading week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, investors are looking ahead to a flurry of economic reports due out this week.

This morning, the National Association of Realtors releases pending home sales index for October. Tomorrow, the Institute for Supply Management releases its manufacturing index for November as the Commerce Department releases construction spending for October. Automakers release vehicle sales data for November. Wednesday the Labor Department releases revised third-quarter productivity data and the Federal Reserve releases its Beige Book.


TOKYO (AP) -- Japanese industrial output rose 1.4 percent in October from the month before, below forecasts and a decrease from the year before.

Government data released Monday also showed retail spending fell in October from a year earlier.

The slowdown in China has reverberated in Japan, the world's third-largest economy, which fell back into recession during the summer, contracting 0.8 percent in the July-September quarter.

The government said last week it will draft a supplementary budget and provide cash handouts to pensioners to counter weak demand.

Factory output fell 1.4 percent in October from a year earlier as production of chemicals, nonferrous metals and telecoms equipment dropped.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Black Friday shopping is shifting from hours spent in line to more time online.

Total sales on Black Friday fell 10 percent to $10.4 billion this year, down from $11.6 billion in 2014, according to research firm ShopperTrak. And sales on Thanksgiving dropped by the same percentage, to $1.8 billion.

A big reason for the decline is increased online shopping, as Americans hunt down deals on their smartphones, tablets and desktop computers. And many retailers are offering bargains even before Thanksgiving, limiting the impact of Black Friday specials.

Online sales jumped 14.3 percent on Friday compared with last year, according to Adobe, which tracked activity on 4,500 retail websites. Online deals accounted for 40 percent of total sales, while email promotions drove 25 percent more sales compared with 2014.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama is keeping tradition to support small businesses.

Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha visited Upshur Street Books in Washington's Petworth neighborhood Saturday. The three skimmed books in the fiction section of the dimly lit store with bright green walls and miniature Christmas lights hung on the ceiling. The president emerged from the store with a brown shopping bag full of books.

The trio moved to the Adams Morgan neighborhood for a stop at Pleasant Pops cafe and market, where the president treated his daughters to fresh fruit popsicles.

Obama has shopped other Washington bookstores including Kramerbooks and Politics and Prose on "Small Business Saturday." The Saturday after Thanksgiving is designed to drive business to mom and pop shops between the Black Friday sales and Cyber Monday deals.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama, who's now in Paris for an international climate conference, has one hand tied behind his back as he tries to negotiate a legacy-making climate change pact.

Congress can't even agree whether global warming is real.

Scientists point to the global agreement as the last, best chance to avoid the worst effects of global warming. Obama has prodded other countries to make ambitious carbon-cutting pledges. He hopes the deal will become the framework to tackle climate change long into the future.

But Republicans have tried to undermine Obama by sowing uncertainty about whether the U.S. will ever make good on its own contribution.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and others have warned other countries not to trust any deal from Obama. Meantime, their allies are working to nullify Obama's emissions-cutting steps.


BOSTON (AP) -- Hillary Rodham Clinton is calling for $275 billion in new federal spending on infrastructure, kicking off what her campaign says will be a month-long focus on job creation.

The Democratic presidential candidate on Sunday promised to rebuild "ladders of opportunity" to help more Americans achieve a "middle-class lifestyle."

Clinton's campaign said she would allocate $250 billion to direct investment by the federal government in crumbling roads, bridges, transit and airports. An additional $25 billion would fund a national infrastructure bank, an idea that has been blocked repeatedly by congressional Republicans.

The new proposals are the most expensive portion of Clinton's economic agenda, which her campaign will be rolling out in the coming weeks.

Clinton was speaking at the launch of "Hard Hats for Hillary" in Boston.


NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- The shelves of big-box retailers are crowded with gadgets to help us communicate and conduct business at greater and greater speeds. But those goods are still delivered the way they were in the era of the rotary phone and transistor radio.

It's a process fraught with the potential for disruption, particularly in the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Weather, labor issues and even computer problems can cause delays. But other factors are a concern as the ports prepare for larger ships plying a widened Panama Canal.

Truckers say they can barely handle the cargo that comes in now. Industry experts say ships can easily switch their routes if congestion causes delays.

Meanwhile, terminal operators and the authority that runs the ports are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade and expand their facilities.


LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) -- The last C-17 Globemaster III built at a Southern California Boeing plant soared into history on Sunday with a flyover that marked the end of an era for the region's once-thriving aerospace industry.

The jet, which can hold more than 80 tons of cargo, will be housed in San Antonio, Texas, until it is delivered to the Qatar Emiri Air Force early next year.

The Long Beach facility assembled more than 250 C-17s over two decades but Boeing announced two years ago that it didn't have enough foreign orders to justify keeping the plant open.

With production ending, most of the 25-acre plant will be shuttered by year's end. About 2,200 employees are losing their jobs, although many have retired or transferred to other Boeing operations.

Boeing still has more than 16,000 employees in California, a nearly 50 percent cut in the workforce in the past decade.

There is hope for California's aerospace industry.

Last month, the Air Force chose Virginia-based Northrop Grumman Corp. to build its next-generation bomber. Northrop Grumman said last year it could create 1,500 new jobs in Palmdale under the $80 billion bomber contract.


NEW YORK (AP) -- New York City is beginning a new era in nutritional warnings this week: Chain restaurants will have to start putting a special symbol on highly salty dishes.

The first-of-its-kind rule takes effect Tuesday. It will require a salt-shaker emblem on some sandwiches, salads and other menu items that top the recommended daily limit of 2,300 milligrams of sodium. That's about a teaspoon.

The Board of Health approved the new warning in September. Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett is expected to discuss it at a news conference Monday.

Public advocates cheer the measure. Experts say most Americans consume too much salt, raising their risks of high blood pressure and heart problems.

Salt producers say the city's policy is misguided, and restaurateurs say the city should leave the matter to federal regulators.

Washington Times