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South Florida Sun-Sentinel
It's Not Democracy If We Don't Vote
By Roberto Garcia
March 23, 2003
I was very disappointed as I saw the results of the March 11 municipal elections. I have participated in every general election since I moved to Florida from Puerto Rico in 1997 and this is the first time I voted for city elections in Broward.
Back in Puerto Rico, the percentage of voters that participated in the last general election in 2000 was 85 percent, down from the 90 percent-plus I saw during my years as a registered voter there. Election day there is not an easy task for a lot of folks who have to wait in long lines, use paper ballots, and sometimes deal with errors in voter registration, but these are not deterrents to go out and vote.
I remember as a child the stories of my late mother, who was a poll worker for every election from the '50s to the '80s. Back in the '50s and '60s, voting was even harder. Electors had to go to their poll places early in the morning, then the rooms were closed with all the voters inside, and each person was called one by one to vote.
You were not allowed to leave the premises until you cast your ballot. Even with all those hardships, the turnout would be in above 90 percent of registered voters.
There are several ways that voter turnout might be increased. City elections could be held on the same date as general elections, or Election Day should be a holiday.
But no change in the voting process can make people realize the privilege of having the right to vote and the things that are at stake by not doing so.
Most of the people who will read this letter are probably part of that small percentage of the population who care about going out to vote. Maybe it is up to us to spread the word among our fellow citizens who do not vote of the importance of doing so. I would rather have a government elected by the majority of the people that I do not agree with than one elected by a minority that suits me better.
City election participation was ridiculously low, but I consider that even general election participation in the 55 percent range is a shame, especially when we like to present ourselves as the best democracy in the world and have even gone to war to establish democracy in the Middle East. This is not what democracy should be. It is not the will of the people, if the people do not vote.