Local News

Low Turnout Yet Another Sign Of Voter Apathy

Posted October 11, 2001

— Voting is one of our most cherished rights as Americans, but most people do not exercise that right.

"It really is an obligation. It's a right, but it's also an obligation. It's disappointing that more people don't take it seriously," says John Gilbert of the Wake County Board of Elections.

Gilbert says people do not take voting more seriously because we have so many elections.

"We elect more officials. We do it more often, so you could say voting is not a big deal," he says.

Paul Coble and Charles Meeker each came within a few hundred votes of clinching the Raleigh mayor's race. Instead, they are headed for a runoff. The candidates have their own theories about why so few Raleigh residents go to the polls.

"Sometimes, I guess it's hard to pull your attention away from day-to-day events you deal with, and concentrate on the things that you hope are running without any attention from your viewpoint," Coble says.

"The time of year is a factor. Second, a lot of people aren't focused on local affairs, even though it affects them more directly than national affairs," Meeker says.

Americans vote at a much higher rate during national elections. Turnout was more than fifty percent last November.

The United States has lower voter turnout than any other democracy. The next lowest rate is in the United Kingdom. Turnout was more than 70 percent when UK voters elected their prime minister this year.


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