COMMENTARY: What a strange election this has been. The two most unpopular candidates in history. The first woman nominee from a major party in history and the first candidate since Wendell Willkie without either a political or military background.
If the polls at the moment are to be believed, it’s all but over, too. As I write this on Tuesday there is still one more debate, so that could change, but one candidate has led nearly the entire campaign so it would take a major misstep on her part to move the needle much. All the makings for a low-turnout election.
Here is the good news: If the very early turn-out is predictive this may be a very high turn-out election. In three very different counties the turnout at the county clerk’s office has been higher than anyone one remembers. Doña Ana County saw a record. So did Bernalillo County. Even very rural San Juan County, where the county seat isn’t even in the biggest town, has seen large numbers. As of Noon on Oct. 18 there were at 1,397 voters, with the highest turnout on the first day of voting, according to Tanya Shelby, assistant county clerk. Alternate sites open on Saturday, and they are gearing up for that.
Why does it matter? Because exercising your rights always matter. There are voices in this campaign who would try to tell you that it shouldn’t, that maybe even your right should be taken away if it would change the outcome to their liking. The Twitter hashtag #Repealthe19th trended last week after a Nate Silver map showed the election results if only men or women voted. While the intent may have been joking, the very idea of limiting, much less taking away any group’s right to vote should be anathema in America in 2016.
An even more important reason is policy. It’s been claimed that even low-turnout elections still reflect the overall electorate, but recent studies have shown that not always the case. Older people, for example, vote in numbers higher than the young by nearly 4 to 1. In a highly diverse nation all views need to be represented.
So have a plan to vote — and better yet, plan to help someone else vote. Carpool to your early voting site, and take your son or daughter, then take them out to lunch. Take your Aunt Mary too, or the neighbor across the street who doesn’t drive anymore. The locations of early vote sites can be found here.
If it feels more patriotic to vote on Election Day, plan a party. Here are some ideas. Celebrate a young person voting for the first time. Celebrate the fact that once every two years we have the chance to make sure our government reflects who we are.
Above all, remember, voting is a revolutionary act. Just do it.
Anderson, of Farmington, is a past Democratic Party county officer and member of the party’s state central committee. She has been active in several political campaigns. Today she follows politics avidly as a concerned citizen. She has been proudly voting since 1972.