Make a note that Friday, Oct. 12, is the last day you can complain about how government operates in your community, Erie County, New York State or Washington, D.C. That’s because it is the final day to register as a voter prior to the Nov. 6 election.
The Erie County Board of Elections has streamlined the process, and it is even easier if you have computer access.
According to its website, www.erieboe.com, there are 568,768 voters in the county, with registered Democrats having the clear majority. Overall, there are more women registered than men. Also, men and women in the 30 to 55 age group make up 44.4 percent of eligible voters.
Surprisingly, only 2.3 percent of the total is found in the new crop of voters, those between the ages of 18 and 20. These would be the future leaders who were so strongly recruited in the 2008 presidential campaign.
Four years later, their voice will be difficult to hear.
The numbers remain low among Erie County men and women ages 21-29 at barely 14 percent of the total. Is there that little interest in democracy in Erie County?
The U.S. Census for 2010 pegged the population of Erie County of voting age to be approximately 725,220. Therefore, there are about 156,000 of your friends, neighbors and co-workers who are not registered to vote. That’s slightly more than the number of registered Republicans in the county. They could swing an election faster than you can say, “Dewey defeats Truman.”
I am well aware that many people are totally turned off by politics in general, campaign advertising, endless television commercials and roadblocks to reform. Yet as irritating as it all can be, involvement at the local level can have a significant impact on the big picture.
As if potential voters were not annoyed enough, there is now another reason to be on guard, according to the Better Business Bureau.
“Scammers are gearing up for this year’s presidential election, from robocalls offering a ‘free cruise’ for taking a political survey, to promises that President Obama will pay your bills. Better Business Bureau is advising voters to be on the lookout for the growing number of scams that are likely to continue leading up to the Presidential election,” the agency advises.
“Hot topics like health care, economic recovery and unemployment, are sure to be the alluring topics this election season, but it can be anything in the news that makes the pitch sound more realistic,” said Warren Clark, Better Business Bureau president.
How sad is it that Americans would not be motivated enough to vote without the shameless prodding of a huckster driven by dirty dollars. That’s not the equal opportunity that the founding fathers had in mind when they crafted the Constitution.
The BBB warning proves some individuals will become more politically astute only if there is some catch to sweeten the deal.
It also confirms that there are unscrupulous people who will try to promote democracy in the interest of ripping you off.
“If you’d like to contribute to a political campaign or party, locate contact information yourself rather than giving out financial information to a caller. Requesting a callback number is no guarantee you will be connected with a legitimate campaign fundraising committee,” adds the BBB.
“Legitimate polling companies will never offer prizes for participating in a
telephone survey, nor ask for a credit card number.” There is only one prize citizens should expect for taking the time to vote. It is the pride of knowing that they have participated in a process that is still unavailable to millions of their brothers and sisters around the world. The object is not to pick a winner, as one would do at a horse race.
The object is to stand up and be counted.
(David F. Sherman a columnist for the Weekly Independent Newspapers of Western New York, a group of community newspapers with a combined circulation of approximately 75,000 homes. Opinions expressed here are those of the author. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)