The March 17 primary elections are right around the corner. Are you ready to be an informed citizen? In our region, there are several vital issues being decided, including Lorain County commissioner seats, a school levy in North Ridgeville, a library levy in Avon, a levy for Lakewood City Schools, and a replacement levy for the Cuyahoga County Department of Health and Human Services.
We have one simple request: Vote. Please. Ohio ranked 29th in the country in voter turnout in 2018 amid historically high totals nationwide. Support and opposition for President Trump, as well as Obamacare, turned voters out in droves during the 2018 midterm elections. More than 118 million ballots were counted, 35 million more than 2014. That national turnout of 50.3% represents the highest share since 1914.
Ohio’s turnout was 50.9%, slightly higher than Idaho and behind Kansas. Minnesota had the highest turnout at 64.2%, followed by Colorado, Montana, Wisconsin and Oregon, all of which saw turnout of at least 61.5%.
Every state except Alaska and Louisiana saw an increase in midterm turnout over 2014. But a report by Nonprofit VOTE and the U.S. Election Project noted that all is not rosy. Hawaii ranked dead last at 39.3%, with Arkansas, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Mississippi each failing to surpass 43%.
Why so low in those states and high in others? There’s actually a pretty obvious, if evil, reason. The 10 states with the highest turnout actively encourage voting with same-day registration, automatic voter registration and vote-by-mail. Nine of the 10 states with the highest turnout numbers have enacted same-day registration or vote-by-mail policies.
All of the bottom 10 states make voting difficult. Eight require voters to be registered at least four weeks ahead of Election Day. Not a single one offered automatic voter registration or mail-in voting.
At least 17 million voters were purged nationwide between 2016 and 2018, according to a study by the Brennan Center for Justice. Sure, cleaning up voter rolls is important. But don’t be naive. Sometimes, the reasons are bad.
Democracy is of the people and by the people. So, how do we change our world and control how we are governed? Vote. Vote. Even in non-national primaries, vote.
And did we mention … vote?