Elections: a time for apathy & excuses

As I rushed to class on Tuesday morning, a plethora of signs touting the unfamiliar names of candidates pervaded my neighborhood streets.

A small group of over-excited baby boomers stood amidst the morning rush hour traffic waving posters and chanting “No on 14!” One person honked and waved while another chucked the finger.

I knew it was time, once again, for another election full of hypocritical politicians and obscure ballot questions.

Consumed by a flash of patriotic responsibility, I thought about making a pit stop at my local polling place but decided it wasn’t worth risking my chance for a parking space at school.

And with that went the almighty freedom my predecessors fought for so fervently, a freedom that 100 years ago seemed impalpable to women, a freedom that has ignited our nation for centuries and helped citizens young and old, poor and rich feel like an equal part of the system.

And here I was passing it up for a parking space.

We all had our excuses Tuesday, I’m sure: “it’s only the primary,” “I’m too hungry to vote,” “it’s pouring and I forgot my umbrella,” “they’re all crooked so who cares” and the tried-and-true “like my vote will really make a difference.”

While they’re great excuses, they lead me to wonder why a country whose name is synonymous with democracy all over the world has such screwed up elections.

After the presidential debacle of 2000 cast a cloud of shame over Dade County, millions were spent on new voting machines to revamp South Florida’s bad rep, but as Tuesday’s primary election showed, little has changed around here. The machines may be shiny and new, but the people in charge of them are still as clueless as ever.

Many international students are amazed at the wave of apathy that engulfs our nation on Election Day. Surely a country that prides itself on free elections would do more to encourage large voter turnouts. In Brazil, Election Day is a national holiday. In many countries, citizens are given weeks to vote.

Here we get one rainy Tuesday to pack into an overcrowded polling place where the people in charge can’t figure out how to plug in the new machines. You’ve got to love democracy!

Jackie Pitts is a senior majoring in Broadcast Journalism and American Studies.