Your Opinion Counts in Presidential Elections

Woodstock’s 50-year anniversary brings back old opinions

My, how one’s opinion changes over time. While I did not attend Woodstock 50 years ago (it’s the anniversary), I did spend the summer of ’69 in San Francisco, which helped me experience our changing social climate. Those were polarizing times, as divisive as they are now, but with different battle lines, so to speak. Then, the outcry was over the Vietnam war and the split was between the young and the old (Don’t trust anyone over 30!). Now the ruptures are between the Left and the Right and the Moderates and the Radicals.

Whatever happened to, “We ain’t gonna study war no more?”

081919 Opinion

Opinions don’t always translate into votes

Though an opinion may change over time, having an opinion is still important. Capturing our opinions via our voting apparatus is one of our prized democratic possessions. Voting is our chance to weigh in, be heard, and make a difference.

Many don’t buy-in to that opinion, however. The Pew Research, in May of 2018, notes that 70% of us say high turnout in presidential elections is important. Just 70%?! But the research goes on to point out that only 56% (an uptick, no less) of eligible voters bothered with the process in 2016. All of these opinions never made it to the count.

Vote suppression silences thousands

It gets worse.

There is, and has been, much concern over voter suppression. It’s an abhorrent activity that prevents people from even casting their ballots! Imagine, large and beefy guys barring the door so you cannot get into wherever you want to go. You’re not allowed in! You can’t participate. Your voting voice is not wanted (never mind needed).

Bob Moser, in The American Prospect, outlines the voter suppression fight in his piece entitled, The Voter Suppression Chronicles. We have a system, or a collection of tactics, used to prevent tens of thousands of people from participating in the democratic process of voting. It’s a travesty.

It seems some are afraid of hearing the truth – the sentiment of the governed – and are willing to break laws to prevent its emergence. If we had the blog-space, we could discuss at length the racial implications here. Memories of Jim Crow and segregation come to mind as we realize the unfairness of it all.

Losing our voting voices causes great loss

But step back from that bit of anguish and rancor for a bit and consider what the nation loses when voters are suppressed from exercising their patriotism. The wrong candidates are elevated to offices of leadership. Society lurches in directions it doesn’t really want to go. Much is lost while the voting voices are stifled: freedoms, lives, and simply plain old relevancy. The message sticks: You don’t matter!

Remember, we are talking about tens of thousands of silenced voting voices!

Everyone’s opinion matters

Is your opinion like mine in that we must fundamentally allow everyone’s voting voice to be heard? We must recognize and allow (even fight for), whether we like it or not, that those who disagree with us still deserve the right to vote and be heard. That may not be our knee-jerk kind of preference but in our sanest moments, our opinions should concur: we all need to be heard.

This inclusion thing is especially vital today. My list of opinions probably doesn’t align with yours. Even our points of agreement are probably not prioritized the same. We’re all different, sometimes in nuanced ways, sometimes grandly. Even if you stand way over there at the far end of the opinion spectrum from where I stand, your vote – your opinion – matters.

Voter suppression is not the same as vote suppression

This is precisely why I keep banging my little tin drum about another kind of suppression. Instead of Votersuppression, I’m focused on Votesuppression. It’s important to understand the difference.

Voter suppression resists tens of thousands of voters from casting their ballots. Vote suppression causes millions of votes to be ignored and cast aside, never being considered for the Electoral College. It occurs whenever votes are cast that don’t concur with the plurality (most) of the voters in a state. Oregon set aside 51.5% of the votes cast (suppressed them) in 2016. Over 63 million such votes were not represented in the 2016 election. They were suppressed!

By the way, over 32 million votes cast for Clinton were suppressed. A little over 22 million votes cast for Trump were suppressed. In other words, the nation managed to suppress more votes cast for Clinton (more than 10 million) than what was suppressed for Trump. It makes Clinton’s paltry 2.8 million popular vote win seem small. And (this is the significant part) vote suppression is NOT an aspect of the Electoral College, though it gets faulted for the skewed results.

Making every vote matter

Equal Voice Voting (EVV) can change all of this. It honors the Electoral College by retaining its proportional approach to voting significance. EVV removes the accursed winner-takes-all approach (all states use it). With EVV, every vote matters and every state is significant.

So, here’s my opinion after 50 years of wishing we could all get along. Let’s not get distracted by obscene power plays and political shenanigans (old guys like to use that word). Let’s usher in a new perspective and a new appreciation for what we have in our governance. Let’s let every viable voter have his/her chance to cast a ballot and then have that ballot matter.

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by Jerry Spriggs & the Equal Voice Voting Team