Friday, August 29, 2014

Local candidates deserve voters’ attention on Aug. 5

6/30/2014

Get out the vote efforts often round up a lot of new potential voters. Sadly, however, those voters tend to be single-issue voters who don’t consistently go to the polls during non-general election opportunities. Let’s hope this year is different.

This year a whole group of Kansans are incensed by the Kansas governor and Legislature’s decision to take away teachers’ tenure or right for due process. More than two-thirds of Kansas’ teachers are women and those teachers as well as their male counterparts should not only go to the polls themselves to support candidates willing to support educators but they also ought to convince their friends, neighbors and others — especially those in the 18-24 age group — to vote too. To do otherwise leaves the election to a minority with an agenda and those voters consistently show up at the polls.

Get out the vote efforts often round up a lot of new potential voters. Sadly, however, those voters tend to be single-issue voters who don’t consistently go to the polls during non-general election opportunities. Let’s hope this year is different.

This year a whole group of Kansans are incensed by the Kansas governor and Legislature’s decision to take away teachers’ tenure or right for due process. More than two-thirds of Kansas’ teachers are women and those teachers as well as their male counterparts should not only go to the polls themselves to support candidates willing to support educators but they also ought to convince their friends, neighbors and others — especially those in the 18-24 age group — to vote too. To do otherwise leaves the election to a minority with an agenda and those voters consistently show up at the polls.

Only 37.9 percent of men and 44.3 percent of women ages 18-to-24 voted in the 2012 presidential election. Meanwhile, more than 73 percent of 65- to 74-year-olds voted in that same election. That certainly shows who carries the weight and the power in the election’s outcome. The numbers for all age groups, however declines significantly in percentages to the mid-40s in non-general election years. The non-general elections — including the primary races — are just as important though and can have a bigger local impact, based on sheriffs, county commissioners, state representatives, U.S. Senators and others that are up for election.

The Aug. 5 primary — separated by party with either Democratic or Republican candidates on individual ballots — will be the final stop for some candidates, so getting to the ballot box for the primary matters most to several candidates who are in contested races then but not during the Nov. 4 election day.

People, including young people, are busy but employers are mandated to allow employees time off to vote so that need not be an excuse. Kids are welcome to go to the polls with their parents and their presence is a positive example to show children that voting matters — and it matters so much that it is a priority. These education life skills moments are too few but oh so important.

Besides age variances in elections — gender plays a role too. A larger percentage of women than men vote in general elections — 63.7 percent of women versus 59.7 percent of men voted in the last general election, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Men and women vote differently and that is at the heart of many political campaigns’ efforts to connect with voters of both genders. One campaign manager believes women analyze the person first — perhaps in a fairly judgmental manner — and then the person’s policies. Presumably men take a different approach and focus on the policy issues.

Regardless of a person’s age, gender or stance on policies it is important to vote at every opportunity and not squelch your voice in lieu of those who would happily do so for you.

Jeanny Sharp,

Editor and Publisher

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