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 August 29, 2014 17:14 GMT

CONSUMER SPENDING

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumer spending fell in July, with a drop in auto purchases accounting for most of the weakness. Income growth also slowed in July.

The Commerce Department says consumer spending edged down 0.1 percent last month after a 0.4 percent increase in June. It was the first decline in spending since January. Income growth slowed to a 0.2 percent rise in July, the weakest showing in seven months.

The fall in spending came primarily from a decline in auto sales, which took a breather in July after posting big gains in recent months, although spending in other areas was also weak.

Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of economic activity, so it needs to recover for the economy to keep its momentum in the second half of the year.

CONSUMER SENTIMENT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumer sentiment ticked up in August, driven by greater optimism about jobs, rising incomes, and increasing wealth. The increase largely occurred among higher-income groups.

The University of Michigan says its index of consumer sentiment rose to 82.5 from 81.8 in July. Still, it has barely risen in the past year.

Consumers have sent mixed signals in recent months. The Michigan index has fluctuated between 80 and 82.5 since December. A measure of consumer confidence by the Conference Board rose this month to nearly a seven-year high. And yet Americans cut back their spending in July.

Nearly 60 percent of households in the top third of income earners say they are financially better off this month, the Michigan survey found, compared with only 36 percent in the bottom two-thirds.

US-FIAT-CHRYSLER

DETROIT (AP) -- U.S. investors should soon be able to buy stock in Chrysler for the first time in seven years.

Italy's Fiat and Chrysler are merging to form Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Fiat says Friday that an ongoing tally of investors suggests there is not enough opposition to derail the deal.

Earlier this month, Fiat shareholders approved combining the companies. But Italian law gives dissenters the right to cash out. Fiat has said that if investors offered more than 500 million euros ($650 million) in shares, the merger would be off.

Fiat SpA will announce the final tally by Sept. 4. So far the maximum number of shares to be cashed is below the cap.

Shares of Chrysler haven't been publicly traded since 2007 when it was still combined with German automaker Daimler.

REYNOLDS AMERICAN-LORILLARD

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Federal regulators are putting Reynolds American Inc.'s planned $25 billion takeover of rival cigarette maker Lorillard Inc. under the microscope.

The nation's second-biggest tobacco company said Friday that the Federal Trade Commission has asked for additional information as part of an antitrust review of the deal.

In July, Reynolds announced the deal to combine two of the nation's oldest and biggest tobacco companies, creating a formidable No. 2 to rival Altria Group Inc., owner of Philip Morris USA.

Reynolds markets Camel, Pall Mall and Natural American Spirit cigarettes. Lorillard sells Newport, Maverick and Kent cigarettes.

The companies plan to sell the Kool, Salem, Winston, Maverick and blu eCig brands to Imperial Tobacco Group for $7.1 billion to ease regulatory concerns about competition.

HEALTH OVERHAUL-TAX FORMS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The federal agency that brought you the glitchy HealthCare.gov website has a massive new project.

If the Health and Human Services department has trouble this time, that could delay tax refunds for many people.

Complicated connections between the new health care law and income taxes will start to surface in 2015.

HHS has to send millions of people who got health insurance tax credits this year a new tax form that's like a W-2 for health care. It's called a 1095-A.

If they're delayed beyond Jan. 31, people who got coverage through the new insurance exchanges may have to wait to file their taxes -- and collect their refunds.

Some tax preparation companies are worried.

The Obama administration says it's on task, but won't provide much detail.

EUROPE-ECONOMY

BRUSSELS (AP) -- Inflation has fallen to an annual 0.3 percent in August for the 18 countries that use the euro, underlining the shakiness of the continent's economic recovery.

Eurostat, the EU statistics agency, says the figure is down from 0.4 percent in July, as expected by market analysts.

Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy, sent a modestly brighter signal as it rose to 0.9 percent from 0.8 percent.

The eurozone economy showed no growth in the second quarter as fears about the Ukrainian crisis weighed on consumers and investment decisions.

The European Central Bank has warned that inflation expectations are worsening and says it will add more stimulus if needed. Many analysts are predicting the bank will launch large-scale purchases of financial assets to pump more money into the economy.

BRAZIL-ECONOMY

SAO PAULO (AP) -- Brazil's government says the country's gross domestic product contracted 0.6 percent in the second quarter compared with the previous three months, sending the country's economy into a recession.

The government's IBGE statistics bureau said Friday it was the second consecutive quarterly contraction of the economy.

In the first quarter of the year, GDP was reported as having grown 0.2 percent. But that figure was revised downward to minus 0.2 percent.

The IBGE says the country's GDP stands at 1.27 trillion reals ($567 billion).

advertisement
Washington Times
advertisement