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Record-breaking voter turnout should be higher

Posted on Wednesday, March 23, 2016 at 9:36 am

General Manager/Editor Ron Schott

General Manager/Editor Ron Schott

More than 1.5 million voters went to the polls last week to officially cast their votes in the Missouri Presidential Primary.
Hillary Clinton earned 49.6% of the 626,075 total votes in the democratic race, beating out Bernie Sanders by just 1,531 votes.
Donald Trump, with no recount scheduled as of press time, beat Ted Cruz by 1,726 votes to earn 40.8% of the 935,794 votes cast.
The remaining 3,500+ votes were cast in either the Libertarian or Constitution Party races.
When first looking at the election results, it appears a significant amount of registered voters were compelled to take time out of their day to make sure they exercised their right in the voting process.
At first glance, 1,565,449 seems like a lot of people. After all, the turnout was a new record, beating the 1.4 million primary votes cast in 2008. But in taking a closer look, the figures enhance some concerns.
This year’s voter turnout was only 39% of the roughly 4 million registered voters.
So in spite of having the opportunity to play a big role in electing a new president, 61% of voters either had something interfere in their schedule or simply chose not to vote for one reason or another.
While I know many people were likely kept away from the polls due to things outside of their control (i.e. family emergencies, work scheduling, elderly challenges, etc.), many voters chose to stay home and not bother to color in an oval on Super Tuesday.
Will the numbers increase in the Presidential Primary come November?
History proves it will. In November 2008, more than 2.8 million of the registered voters at that time went to the polls.
Sadly, there are still about 1.5-2.5 million voters who are not voting.
My hope is that someday, the percentage of voters could increase to be at least 75% or more.
Men and women died protecting our country and defending our rights. One way we can give back is to celebrate the freedoms that we have and do things like take part in the voting process.
For some of the voters who did vote, I am still shaking my head at some of the decisions.
With both the Democrat race and Republican race coming down to less than 2,000 votes, I still wonder why some folks chose to color in the ovals of candidates who already suspended their campaigns.
The biggest example of this came in the Republican race. There were 18,477 voters who voted for candidates who already suspended their campaigns. This total came from voters for Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Dr. Ben Carson, Rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina, Rand Paul, and Mike Huckabee.
Along with those votes, 3,216 people took time to go to the polls, and instead of choosing a candidate, they decided to color in an oval next to the word “uncommitted.”
If just 1,800 or more voters out of the more than 21,600 decided to vote for Cruz, for example, he would have won the tight race over Trump.
Among the four parties, 8,772 voters took the time to go to the polls only to color in an “uncommitted” oval. Perhaps these voters have good reasons but one would like to think there is enough information available in this information age, along with the work done in the newspaper industry, that a voter could find enough information to help them cast a vote for an actual candidate.
During every presidential election cycle, many voters hear American citizens complain about government officials in countless “water cooler” conversations.
Makes me wonder though how many conversations are taking place where all of those talking are actually voters? No matter how big or small the election is, American citizens should be taking part in the election process by casting their votes.
Your next chance to do this is for local races and ballot issues being decided on Tuesday, April 5. Be sure to do your part.