Of course the world is buzzing today with the good news that Barack Obama will be the new president of the United States. I’m hopeful it will mean good things for the neighbours, too.
What strikes me about this election (besides how painfully long it dragged on) was the voter turnout. It was 64.5 per cent, the highest number since 1908. This is not really far off Canada’s last election voter turnout of 59.1 per cent, our lowest number ever. (Canadian voter turnout peaked at more than 79 per cent in 1958.)
In both cases, where were all the other voters? Why do so many people just not bother to get involved?
I found an interesting piece on voter turnout that says, “Even when American democracy is at its best, voter turnout ranks among the worst in the free world.” Writer Michael Thompson goes on to compare the turnout in places like Australia (mandatory voting and 95 per cent) and many other nations. He cites difficult voter registration and voting impact as possible reasons.
Much lower on the scale of importance, communications people often find the same difficulty getting people to complete a survey. Even when it’s a survey that will give participants a chance to improve something (a publication, a process, an environment), many people just don’t bother. My local chapter of IABC recently conducted a survey, and announced the highest response rate ever. Are you ready? It was 23 per cent. And we’re communicators!!
It just amazes me that we have this freedom to vote or comment or make ourselves heard, and so many of us don’t.