November, 1980 Home   Newsletters

December, 1980

January, 1981

General Meeting on Women's Issues
President's Message (Barbara Farwell)
Confusing Ballots!
Money for ERA
Students' Voice on Viewpoint
Notes on Leaguers
Dollars and Service
Mayor-Elect "Brown Bags" it with LWV!
League in Action
Look at Children in the U.S. (Bernice Weissbound)
Sunshine Coalition (Romayne Karl)
Juveniles and the Justice System
Wanted Alive & Active

President's Message

The election is behind us at last, and it is time for assessments -- not in terms of winners and losers, but the process itself. For example, we can talk about voter turn-out in Hawaii. If we look just at registered voters, our turn-out was about 79%. That's higher than the national average, though lower than our turn-out in 1976. But, of those eligible to vote, less than half actually registered and voted!

Why don't more people vote? Is it because they don't care? Are too absorbed in their own lives? Don't think their votes will make any difference? Are put off by registration procedures?

It seems to me that there are three elements to nonvoting that we could explore. The first has to do with the complexity of issues. Inflation, unemployment, Salt II, military readiness, pollution, energy -- sometimes it seems impossible to get any sort of handle on these problems. And is it worth it? Perhaps the most rational thing for a voter to do, faced with such issues, is to forget it all and stick to worrying about his or her own life problems.

The second element has to do with the political parties. They don't seem to have much to do with electing candidates anymore, or even nominating them. The parties have less power because of reduced patronage and reforms like the primaries, but they still seem as elitist today as they were in the days of the "smoke filled rooms." Politics has moved away from the parties to be found elsewhere, as in special interest groups.

The third element involves the media. We see a few minutes of presidential candidates on the TV news, sandwiched between stories on airplane crashes and kidnappings. Politics is reduced to trivia, to images, to polls. And as for election projections -well, many of us in Hawaii discovered on our way to vote that the TV networks had already named the president-elect. AUWE! Media politics just isn't much fun.

What can the League do about nonvoting? We need to think now about League strategy, about voter guides, about creative ways to reach people to educate them on issues and candidates. And we need to get people interested in the political process. Voting is an occasional act that begins with politics, and perhaps this is something we have forgotten.

Barbara Farwell

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