No Excuses

There are no excuses. Yesterday, was North Dakota’s primary election. The day residents elect their school board members, mayors, and city commissioners. The government that is closest to us and often has more of an impact on our day-to-day lives. It was the day everyone has an equal say in who governs them. Yet, less than 20% of eligible voters cast a ballot in North Dakota. That is incredibly disappointing. Why aren’t people voting?

Let me be clear. This isn’t about any election outcome. I congratulate those who won. Those that didn’t should not be discouraged. Both should be thanked for taking the risk and putting in the effort. I’ve personally been on both sides of these election night results before. It isn’t easy and we should be grateful they ran.

This post is strictly about the lack of enthusiasm from the electorate. This is about us. Every single one of us knows someone who didn’t vote. I hope it wasn’t you. The bottom line is we must do better. A place to start is by asking why? Why didn’t over 80% of eligible voters take five to ten minutes and vote? Do they feel powerless? Do they believe their vote doesn’t matter? Were there barriers from the government or work to voting? Or, do they just not care?

I find it incredibly difficult to believe it is just that people don’t care. Why? Because they share their thoughts and concerns all over social media. They call and text into my radio show. They buy a round for their neighbors and talk about what is going on nationally and locally. They sip coffee with family and discuss the school district and the potholes down the road. They care, apparently just not enough to do something about it. To me, that is no excuse.

Others attempt to rationalize sitting out. I’ve seen people say they can’t find candidates that fit their worldview. Can’t find candidates? In Fargo there were nine candidates for two seats on the city commission. In West Fargo there were thirteen candidates for four seats on the school board. To that I say, good luck finding someone who they agree with all the time. Also, if they’re so particular in what they think should be done, what prevents them from running for office? Can’t find a candidate to vote for? Not an excuse.

So what is it? Why aren’t people voting? I’ve seen and heard all sorts of absurd reasons. None of them hold water. Looking forward, what are each of us willing to do to turn it around? This is part of our civic duty. There are no excuses.

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