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 May 05, 2015 07:28 GMT

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

WASHINGTON (AP) --Some big earnings and economic reports are due out today. Later this morning, the Commerce Department will release its international trade data for March. In February, the U.S. trade deficit-- the amount by which the value of imports exceeds the value of exports-- fell almost 17 percent to $35 billion. Also this morning, the Institute for Supply Management will release its service sector index for April. In March, U.S. service firms expanded at a slightly slower pace than the month before and the service index slipped to 56.5, though any reading over 50 signals expansion in economic activity.

Freddie Mac and Walt Disney will report their quarterly financial results before the market opens.

FEDERAL RESERVE-LEAK PROBE

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is disclosing that she met with a financial analyst at the center of an investigation into a possible leak of confidential interest-rate information. But she says the meeting occurred several months before the private Fed discussions at issue took place, and dealt with general economic matters.

The information came in a letter Monday from Yellen to senior House Republicans who are investigating whether market-sensitive information was deliberately leaked from the Fed's interest-rate policy meeting in September 2012.

The lawmakers had requested the names of Fed officials and staff who had contact with the analyst's firm, Medley Global Advisors, from June through October 2012. Yellen said several names were provided confidentially to the staff of House Financial Services Committee, and that hers is on the list.

GULF OIL SPILL-MEXICAN STATES

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court's dismissal of a lawsuit against BP and other companies by three Mexican states over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal upheld a 2013 district court ruling.

The courts held that, because Mexico's federal government owns the affected property, the states -- Veracruz, Tamaulipas and Quintana Roo -- don't have standing to file the suit.

The opinion, dated May 1, notes that that the Mexican federal government filed a similar lawsuit, which is progressing through the court system.

The ruling said the 2010 suit sought alleged damages or future damages, including oil spill response costs and harm to sea life and shorelines.

A BP spokesman said the company was pleased with the ruling.

GAS DRILLING-WATER CONTAMINATION

UNDATED (AP) -- A new study says toxic fluids used in drilling and hydraulic fracturing likely escaped an unlined borehole and migrated thousands of feet into residential drinking-water wells in Pennsylvania.

At least three wells were contaminated with dangerous levels of methane and other substances in 2010. The incident was one of several involving Chesapeake Energy that prompted state regulators to levy a record $1 million fine against the driller.

Penn State University researchers say they detected minute amounts of a chemical compound often found in drilling and fracking fluids. Their study was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study does not implicate the fracking technique itself. Researchers say the toxic fluid probably escaped the gas well while it was being drilled.

US-HOLCIM-LAFARGE-FTC

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. antitrust regulators say Holcim and Lafarge agreed to sell assets including cement plants and transportation assets to complete their merger, which will make the world's largest cement company.

The Federal Trade Commission says the combination of the two companies would have reduced competition for portland cement, a component of concrete, in many U.S. markets. It also would have reduced competition for a specialty type of cement called slag cement.

Lafarge will sell its Continental Cement business along with a cement plant, a quarry and some distribution assets, while Holcim will sell several cement plants and distribution terminals.

Holcim Ltd. is based in Switzerland and Lafarge SA is based in France. The companies hope to combine in July. Together they will have about $34 billion in annual revenue.

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