Guest Blogger – Ashley Patton – Election Day
Ashley Patton is a community relations professional in Kansas City, striving to make a difference in her community. She graduated summa cum laude from Arizona State University with a B.A. in Communication and B.S. in Political Science. She just can’t stop learning, though, and is continuing her education as a graduate student and public speaking teacher at the University of Central Missouri.
NOVEMBER 8TH, 2016
Ah…the day is finally here. The day we exercise our rights as American citizens. The day we, as a people of a democratic country, elect our leadership to navigate foreign policy and affairs, command our military forces, and more. The day our overzealous great uncle can stop spreading propaganda his Facebook profile of which he barely knows how to log-in. The day we can arrive late to work as long as we have a specific sticker on our shirt. The day that begins four years of half of our country proclaiming, “I told ya so!” And yet, November 8th, 2016 is also the day that approximately half of eligible voters will simply stay home.
VOTER TURN-OUT AT AN ALL TIME LOW
While the 2016 election is easily the most divisive yet, and America is perhaps the most divided we’ve ever been, more Americans now than ever are foregoing their civic duties. In 2012, only 53% of eligible voters cast their ballots. And in 2014, only 36 percent of eligible voters voted–the lowest voter turn-out rate in U.S. history since 1942. And although we’ll have to wait until the end of the night to determine how many Americans turned out for 2016, if history is any indicator, as Brad Plumer reports, we can anticipate between 80 and 100 million eligible voters simply will not vote.
The topics of discussion on the Show Me Justice Film Festival Blog have a common thread of unpacking complex issues of social justice or injustice in our society, and all of these topics are under the influence of politics. Even film prosperity is under direct influence of politics; for example, film grants and incentives at destinations (such as Kansas City) are able to occur due to local lawmakers and political decisions.
So, it’s important to dissect why we do not turn out to vote, despite the important social justice and even film implications decided on by our political leaders. There are a variety of reasons, and for sake of this blog post, we’ll just scratch the surface on a few.
- Electoral competitiveness – If you live in a “purple” or “swing” state, changes are you will cast a vote. However, in states that are strongly “blue” or “red,” fewer votes are cast, perhaps due to a perception that one’s vote will not change the status quo.
- Election type – Even though issues like police brutality, of which is managed under local government, are at the forefront of this election, people simply do not turn out for local elections. Americans vote drastically less in off-year elections where there is not a presidential election and in local elections.
- Voting laws – This could be a whole blog post on its own. Unfortunately, voting laws, including voter ID laws, polling locations, early voting, absentee voting, and other policies have been passed that discriminate against the poor, young, minorities, elderly, etc. When it is more difficult to cast a vote, people won’t go the extra mile.
- Demographics – Statistics show that the citizens more likely to vote are over 30, white or black, wealthy, and women.
So, I hope when you read this, you have made your voice heard and voted in the 2016 election. Our political leaders can help us accomplish the change to social justice issues and help the film industry, and they can even pass the very laws that encourage voter turnout or strike down those discouraging voter turnout.
Happy voting and cheers to the end of your great uncle’s Facebook rants!