Opinion by Fred Novota
James McHenry (1753-1816), while he was a Maryland delegate to the Constitutional Convention, recorded this event on the last day of the convention, September 18, 1787. He wrote: “A lady (Elizabeth Willing Powel) asked Dr. Franklin, “Well Doctor, what have we got a republic or a monarchy?” “A republic,” replied the Doctor, “if you can keep it.”
For 235 years, we have been attempting to do just that, to keep the Republic as the basis of our representative government. The latest election Primary results for 2022 puts the question in dire perspective. It showed an overall percentage of returned ballots in the State of 41%, with the lowest number of returned ballots for the age group 18-24, amounting to 19% of all votes, vs. 68% for the age group 65+.
Couple that statistic with all of King County having the largest voter population, showing only 39% returned ballots.
The staggering number of unresponsive voting results is appalling and reflects a profound lack of understanding and appreciation for the generations who came before us. It certainly does not contribute to keeping our Republic healthy. These results also seemingly don’t reflect the State of Washington’s teaching plan, entitled “Teaching Elections in Washington State, Lesson Plans and Classroom Activities,” published by the Office of the Secretary of State.
The instruction is designed for K-12 grades, and it reads:
“Public education was established in America to prepare future citizens for their role in our democracy” (the original word “Republic” has been replaced with “Democracy” as though they were synonymous?). Also, “What can we do to encourage people to vote in elections?” with separate lesson plans devoted to high school students in four study modules. Unfortunately, this teaching guide is more about the voting process rather than encouraging good citizenship and preserving our liberty as a nation; and maintaining individual sovereignty secured under our Constitution by our Founding Fathers —those who gave us our REPUBLIC form of government.
Somehow the teaching message is not retained or is simply ignored by our youth as unimportant, made so by a lack of national pride, which, sadly, is not emphasized by our public leaders and national news. Being that I am well over the 65 voting age category, I understand why some senior citizens do not vote; they are tired of being underrepresented, witnessing the lack of equal justice, suffering under dictatorial mandates these last two years, and sorely aware of the general ignorance of public officials to abide by their oath of office.
It is a known fact that mid-term elections suffer in voter turnout over national elections. It’s more of an ego thing. We don’t want the criticism of not voting for the lesser of two evils for president. But that shouldn’t be the case since mid-term elections have a greater bearing on all of us. They establish the course of our elections, elect state and local officials, impanel school board members, and determine health and safety statutes that directly affect our daily lives.
In short, with every election, voting should be a matter of national pride. We should be voting for the best people to ensure the future of a healthy Republic for generations to come.
“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free……it expects what never was and never will be”. Thomas Jefferson
Mail-in balloting has not improved the percentage of voter returns; it only sped up the process of counting returned ballots, with the question of the ever-present voting irregularities associated with mail-in ballots.The percentage of eligible registered voters in Washington State has gone down from 90% in 1952 to 76% by 2016.State-sponsored “voting lesson plans” for public school children have not improved voter participation for younger adults.This results in offices being filled and laws being approved in Washington by a mere 20-25% of the electorate at mid-term elections, 38% in presidential elections.
But somehow, in this process, we must ask ourselves, are we doing a good job preserving our heritage? A look at current voter participation sheds some light on this question.