Why Don’t We Vote

Posted on 11. Mar, 2014 by in Blog

By: Demetrio Duarte, Jr.

If you live in the San Antonio area, you see and hear about the largest MLK march in the nation, the thousands of people who go to sporting events, the thousands who complain about news items via blogs, tweets and mass e-mails.  Over 1.2 million people live in San Antonio with so many more in the other communities or unincorporated areas of Bexar County.

The Bexar County Elections Office shows we have 916,408 registered voters.  Yet only 109,430 people voted this past week in the primary elections – – 64,595 Republicans and 44,835 Democrats.  Each party had contested races from the top of the ballot for national and state offices to the bottom of the ballot where local offices were at stake.

As a trial lawyer, I am at the courthouses around the country with great regularity.  I fight for individuals who believe the laws are unjust, the procedures are unfair, the elected officials abuse their authority and the system as a whole is skewed in favor of the powerful few.  The parties to disputes or defendants in criminal cases have family members in the gallery are screaming that different issues are unfair.

There are so many issues that we all believe are important – – social security, immigration, the budget, taxes, civil liberties, military benefits, military deployments, foreign policy, scientific and medical research.  The list is endless.  Yet, when we have the opportunity to have our voices heard via our vote, we do not take the time to vote.  Voting has become more convenient, but the right we say our soldiers are fighting to protect is being forgotten.  Instead, fewer people are deciding our future, our public policy, our fate.  11.94% of our citizens are deciding who is elected, what constitutional amendments should pass or what bonds should pass. In effect, one voter is deciding the future for nine of his neighbors.

I have spoken to so many people and heard so many excuses:

My vote doesn’t matter.

I do not like any of the candidates.

I do not know who is running.

I am not registered to vote.

I have freedom of choice and I choose not to vote.

My mom votes for our family.

Those excuses fail.  Your vote does matter; you do not need to vote for every position on the ballot if you like neither candidate; you will remember whose name you know (good or bad) when you are at the polling station; you can easily register to vote; your not voting is a vote against your own beliefs; and your mom only votes once – – not for every member of the family.  The truth is that in the primary elections held last week, 50 different votes might have led to a different candidate for District Attorney.   110 votes could have elected a different judge.  Another 175 votes might have saved someone from a runoff.  If everyone at one graduation party, at a church or at a medium-sized company voted, many of our election results could be completely different.  What would the courthouse or legislature look like if EVERYONE at the MLK march voted?

Corporate America and special interests have more and more influence at the Whitehouse and in the State House because less of us vote.  I vote because I want my representatives, judges, commissioners, etc. to consider my point of view on taxes, foreign policy, family values, military spending, immigration, governmental benefits, education and so many other issues.  I do not want my representatives making decisions that are more consistent with the lobbyists who are paid to persuade our leaders to turn a blind eye to my opinions.  If we want a better community and a better world, we need to vote in favor of individuals or laws or bonds or propositions that move us in a positive direction.  If we do not vote, Wall Street, big business and special interests will dictate how America will be run.

If you voted in the primary election last week, you can vote in the runoff elections in May.  If you are not registered to vote, you can register now and still vote in the general elections in November.  Voting is important and so easy to do.  If we fail to vote, we may some day be reminded of the narrative below.

“In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.   Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.” –  Pastor Martin Niemöller, 1945

Speak up and let your voice be hear for all of us.   PLEASE VOTE. 

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