But on the average, it seems that in a very good year, a little more than half of registered voters can be expected to participate in the process of choosing those who will lead our government.
That’s half of registered voters, not half of the population, not even half of those who are eligible to vote. It’s a relatively small portion – at least, much less than a simple majority – of the citizens being governed.
The question is whether that’s a bad thing or not.
First, some specifics on recent voting numbers: This time two years ago, according to the state government’s website (elect.ky.gov), 415,337 Kentucky voters went to the polls on primary Election Day.
That’s 415,337 out of 2.98 million registered voters – 13.9 percent.
Six months later, Kentucky voters were much more engaged in the general election of 2012, with 3.037 million registered and 1,814,552 (59.7) actually going to the polls and casting ballots.
Kentucky’s percentage was a tad better than the national average of 57.5 percent, down from 62.3 in the 2008 general election, according to numbers from the Bipartisan Policy Center (bipartisanpolicy.org).
In Marshall County, 22.2 percent of our 23,566 registered voters marked ballots in the 2012 primary election. That’s well above the curve in comparison to the statewide figure of 13.9.
Who specifically is participating in the electoral process? Here, not unlike other counties, it seems that the older we get, the more likely we are to vote. In the 2012 primary, only 7.8 percent of voters aged 17 to 24 cast ballots. The numbers went up steadily – 11.5 percent for ages 25-34, 16.8 percent for 35-49, 25.1 percent for 50-61 and 33.3 percent for 62-older.
That suggests a parallel between life experience and interest in the governmental process.
Clearly, there are young people who do care enough to become involved, as evidenced by those 155 voters between the ages of 17 and 24 who voted in Marshall County in the 2012 primary.
The significant measure here is engagement, not age. We’re not suggesting that we should let the old folks determine the course for all of us.
What we are suggesting is that all the grassroots efforts to stimulate voter participation ought to be funneled into an overall education in civics. Let’s do all we can to stimulate real interest, not just the marking of ballots.
We welcome and encourage the participation of all citizens in their governmental processes. If they care enough about what is going on, they will participate.
Every time that an election rolls around, somebody will paint a sad face on the numbers of people who participate in those elections. Perhaps it’s sad that fewer and fewer people care, but if they truly don’t care, we suggest it’s a good thing that they’re not voting.