Monday, October 04, 2004

Voter Turnout

Earlier this month the University of Maryland and a global polling company, Globescan, released the results of a worldwide poll dealing with the US presidential election. It would seem that a majority of folks in the world want a change of guard in the US. However, the results were not the most interesting thing to me, the most interesting thing was that 35,000 people in 35 different countries spanning the globe, cared enough about the US election to register an opinion. In essence they care enough about American politics to "vote". Imagine if you will, a peasant farmer in Kenya, or a plantation worker in Brazil, who cares enough to have an opinion about an election that they can not vote in (but would if they had the chance) and are thousands of miles from.. Think about it, the peasant farmer, cares enough about the election to take time from tending to his crops to think about the American election. What excuse do the 48% of Americans who did not vote in 2000 have. Were they to busy? did not feel their vote would count? What about this farmer, surviving with less than $1 a day, but has the audacity to care about the American election? Is he demented?
This situation reminds me of my years in high school, especially during the 2000 election, my school (and most in Kenyan society) was engaged in heated discussions about who would be the best president, Bush or Gore. I remember spending inordinate amounts of time glued to the TV screen, awaiting the results of the fiasco that was Florida. I was miles away from America but I cared enough about who would occupy the position, because I understood (and still do) that whoever is president will affect me one way or the other. I wished I could (and still do) have my VOICE HEARD, I wished I could participate in the democratic process in the USA. It, therefore, perturbs me that only a bare majority of Americans bother to vote, an even smaller number of my peers (40% of 18 - 24 year olds) bother to vote on election day. I fail to understand why a high school student in Kenya cares more about who is president than your average American college student. The stakes are so much higher for the American, that I fail to see why one would fail to exercise there democratic right (indeed responsibility) to vote.
I would like to implore all those who are eligible to vote to do so. Register to vote and on November 2 register your vote. Remember there are many in this world who wish they had the opportunity to be involved in a democratic process, moreover, whoever you choose will affect the fortunes of billions of people in this world. 6 billion people await your decision.


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