By Brian Villalba
If you don’t vote you are telling the government you don’t care because everything is going perfectly. Clearly things are far from perfect, but some of us seem to not care. If you consider yourself a political activist and you are not registered to vote, then can you really still consider yourself a political activist?
To vote is to participate in government. That is one way that we are supposed to be equal. Everyone’s vote is worth one vote. The problem is if you don’t vote it isn’t worth anything. If you register to vote then you have taken the first step. The next step is that you must participate in the elections by showing up to your polls and voting.
According to the Los Angeles County Registrar only 53 percent of registered voters turned out for the last gubernatorial election in 2010. If you did not show up to the polls that day and you don’t like the current political circumstances, are you not partly to blame? The answer is yes.
If you didn’t vote in that election, which had a ton of media coverage, you likely didn’t vote in the many local elections that affect all sorts of important issues like our Los Angeles Community College District budget.
Since 2009, Los Angeles has elected two new congresspersons. One election was in 2009 and another in 2011. In the 2011 election which saw Janice Hahn become the next representative from California’s 36th congressional district, the voter turnout was 25 percent. The 36th district is on the west side of Los Angeles south of Santa Monica.
The 2009 election which saw Judy Chu, who was a professor at East Los Angeles College for 13 years, become our next representative from California’s 32nd congressional district, voter turnout was a whopping 10 percent. The 32nd district is all around ELAC. Many ELAC students live in the 32nd district. With a voter turnout like that, Judy Chu could have had her extended friends and family show up to the polls and win in a landslide as a result.
These elections certainly got less press than the gubernatorial election but they affect us just as much, if not more. Local elections tend to have lower voter turnouts than national elections. Local elections affect our tuition rates, taxes, laws and just about everything else local government does. There are plenty of people who are protesting fee hikes but where were these people on election day?
Too many of them didn’t vote. If they had just showed up to vote then perhaps there would have been less reason to protest. The next time ELAC students want to occupy something they should consider looking to their peers.
If everyone sympathetic to the occupy movement voted, perhaps there would not have been such a need for an occupy movement in the first place. Also there would not likely have been such a ruthless and systematic national crackdown. Elected officials would likely have used more caution.
It wouldn’t be wise for elected officials to be so adversarial with the very constituents that are responsible for their job security. So long as voter turnout is near 10% we shouldn’t expect elected officials to listen to us because we aren’t saying anything.