Why Aren’t You Voting?

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Lion's Field covered in candidate signs. Photo by Robert Rivard.

Lion's Field covered in candidate signs. Photo by Robert Rivard.

It’s Tuesday. Oct. 21, Day Two of Early Voting in Texas, and I am at Lion’s Field, where the senior citizens who faithfully work the polls greet me each time elections roll around in San Antonio.

It’s a tradition and a pleasure. It makes me feel proud to be an American, land of the free and home of the brave. Laugh if you will, but I have worked in countries where people lived in fear every day of their waking lives, where the liberty to vote in free and fair elections was beyond grasp. I will never forget that and I will always vote.

Why aren’t you voting?

Please excuse the presumptive tone of my question, but the truth is, most of you are not going to vote. It’s a fact: The majority of Americans, including the majority of eligible San Antonio residents, do not exercise their right to vote. Sure, half of you, sometimes 60% of you, vote in a Presidential election. The rest of the time? Most of you watch from the sidelines. By the time we get down to school board and City Council elections, we are talking 10-20% of eligible voters showing up.

Why aren’t you voting?

Early voting locations, mapped by NOWCastSA.

Early voting locations, mapped by NOWCastSA.

Apathy cuts across party, socio-economic, gender, age, race, and ethnicity lines. Indifference, complacency and cynicism know no boundaries. Still, the less education, the less income, the less perceived stake in the system, the less likely an individual will vote. Actually, the less likely they even register to vote.

We live in a Red State, one of the reddest states in the United States. Yet we also live in a state where a voting majority could flip the switch overnight and turn Texas blue. The key to that flip of the switch in San Antonio and statewide is the adult Hispanic population, the so-called “sleeping giant.” It’s Mexican-American dominant, overwhelmingly Democratic, yet highly unlikely to vote except in Presidential elections and rare individual races with a special attraction candidate or issue.

Because Texas is Red instead of Blue, because extremely conservative Republicans have a stranglehold on state government, here are some facts working-class minorities who do not vote should consider:

  • There will be less spending on public health initiatives in Texas because you do not vote.
  • There will be less spending on public education in Texas because you do not vote.
  • There will be less spending on environmental protections, including enforcement of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, because you do not vote.
  • There will be less access to family planning services for women, including access to counseling, birth control, and  abortion, because you do not vote.
  • There will be fewer women elected to public office, including the governor’s and lieutenant governor’s office, because you do not vote.
  • There will be less money spent on protecting children against child abuse because you do not vote.
  • There will be less money from the windfall of billions of dollars in state tax revenues spent on communities in South Texas where infrastructure has been overwhelmed by activity in the Eagle Ford Shale Play.

I ask again: why aren’t you voting?

From left: County Court #7 Judge Eugenia "Genie" Wright, volunteer Jessica Barraza, and volunteer Theresa Canales spread campaign signs at Lion's Field. Photo by Robert Rivard.

From left: County Court #7 Judge Eugenia “Genie” Wright, volunteer Jessica Barraza, and volunteer Theresa Canales spread campaign signs at Lion’s Field. Photo by Robert Rivard.

I know some of the reasons: Right-wing politicians and conservative media have demonized you, questioned your citizenship, demanded that you be made to show photo ID, gerrymandered districts, and in general, done everything they can to disenfranchise you as voters.

All the more reason to vote and fight back.

The abuse heaped on Latinos cannot be used as an excuse by Millennials who posture that “the system sucks” and it doesn’t make any difference, so they opt out and do not participate. Opting in and voting makes an enormous difference. I’ve listed some of the reasons why above.

For those who failed to register by last week, it’s too late. However, f you register now, you will be eligible to vote in the important City of San Antonio elections on May 9. For those who are registered already, you have ample time to vote early or to go to the polls on Nov. 4.

In my next article, I’ll take a closer look at the race between Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff and his challenger, former District 10 City Councilmember Carlton Soules. No local race matters more than this one if you are committed to building a better city for Millennials.

Until then, please think about the question this article poses: Why aren’t you voting? I’d like to hear from you, and from those of you joining me at the polls: Why are you voting?

*Featured/top images: Lion’s Field covered in candidate signs.  Photo by Robert Rivard.

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21 thoughts on “Why Aren’t You Voting?

  1. Honest question: Since we have seen the progressive ideology fail, multiple times, on the national scene over the past seveal years, and since the progressive agenda has repeatedly failed in nearly every state (especially when compared to red states like Texas), how would Texas escape these failures if it turned blue?

  2. You assume that we Hispanic adults of voting age are Democrats. Many of us are Republican and quite conservative. The Democrats have abandoned traditional Democrat stances and don’t really have anything to offer church going Hispanics. And I will be voting…just not likely for anybody with a D by their name.

  3. Robert Rivard I get your Tone in your piece. But a male talking down to his readers and Latinos (as if we don’t know about voting registration rights), I find it offensive.

    Maybe instead of rambling about latinos and minorities as a privileged white male (at least by skin tone and name), talk about past leaders and initiatives. Talk about the failures and successes.

    Talk about Willie Velasquez, a bipartisan Latino who changed a generations perspective on voting and voter registration rights and was from San Antonio.

    Anyway, I like where you are trying to go, I just think you could have written a piece that truly contextualizes voting, rather then “calling out” your readers.

  4. Interesting question. Some will not vote because they don’t see a positive outcome from a policy of “let’s spend our way to more government interference in our lives”. Hispanics are independent, hard working and responsible, so why would a message of “the government will take care of everything” resonate with them?
    Some don’t vote because they know that they are not legal and are too honest to cheat the system.
    Some are actually happy with their ability to work and take care of their families.
    There was a time when Democrats ran everything in this state. If Texas ever turns blue again, I hope the best of past Democratic ideals is the reason.

  5. 30 years ago (yes, that long ago) I was living in another city but involved in supporting a school board candidate who was being assailed by The Eagle Forum. A copy of their strategy became available and I was shocked. They had figured out that in these local elections all that was needed to “control” the outcome was for 6% of “their” voters to show up and cast ballots in a united fashion. Why? Because so few people were going to vote that would be all it took for their candidate to win. 6%! If we don’t vote, we get what we deserve!!! We abdicate the decision-making to a small percentage of people who may or may not have our own best interests represented in their point of view. This strategy ONLY works because so few of us actually show up and vote our own point of view. The right to vote is so precious, but we have come to regard it as more of a chore and we don’t realize the potential harm done when we abdicate our choices to the few who do vote. As Bob rightfully points out, one only has to look around a bit and realize that this is a rare privilege we enjoy in a chaotic world. Remember the pictures of people proudly holding up their inked finger that signified they had voted–probably for the first time in their lives? I voted Monday. My voice has been heard. Has yours?

  6. Hi Robert: a few possible reasons why some folks might not be voting in Bexar County (possibly worth RR follow-up):

    – The Bexar County Elections website (http://home.bexar.org/elections/) currently appears to return some Section 508 accessibility errors, the minimum Federal requirements for web accessibility – including related to information recently posted there about early voting.

    – The Bexar County Elections website currently indicates the County is “working on” Spanish language translations of the website – although early voting commenced Monday.

    – Not all early voting locations are easily accessible by public transport. As an example, a trip to Crossroads Mall (one early voting location) by VIA Primo is currently not possible without navigating at least one stretch where there is no sidewalk along Fredericksburg Road – in a 40mph zone (see https://www.google.com/maps/@29.4894728,-98.5508158,3a,75y,187.17h,72.06t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sL9lMSHmgxqngPdYfX4kn-Q!2e0)

    – Election Day polling places aren’t necessarily assigned based on proximity (the one closest to your registered address isn’t necessarily your polling place), causing some to be unnecessarily inconvenienced if not disenfranchised on Election Day.

    Bexar County needs to allow open polling (polling at one’s place of choice) on Election Day, as is allowed with early voting – including to help compensate for lack of adequate sidewalks and public transport options near some assigned polling locations in the County and given dismal voter turnout statistics and issues with making information about voting more accessible to all.

  7. Who interferes more in our lives than Republicans? Maybe you don’t care because you are not a woman, but I notice all the ways Republican government wants to get inbetween me and my medical care.

  8. OMGOSH, are you kidding with this ridiculous article. Every word is completely and totally untrue. And maybe the Hispanic population in San Antonio is too busy WORKING to worry about the govt handouts others are sitting around doing nothing for!

  9. Bottom line: vote because it’s a privilege and your duty. Right/left/female/male, someone died for that privilege. People in other countries are still dying trying to obtain this right, which we seem to take for granted. Respect the sacrifice, appreciate the privilege, stop the apathy. VOTE!!!

  10. I am voting…and voting early, but not just yet. I am trying to be a responsible voter and cast a (somewhat) informed vote for the dozens of judge races.

    My daughter is a lawyer. Many ex-students and friends are lawyers. Finding insights about all the judge races is next to impossible!

    I will succeed. I will vote. Early. The big races are all quite clear to me. The real issues are why to we elect judges and why do we elect them by party?

  11. If you’re not voting because “your vote doesn’t count” the one election it does count in is off year local May elections. The Source ( TPR) had a great topic on who votes for mayor? A study that San Antonio was included in. Google “Who votes for Mayor? and check out the San Antonio stats. I always vote and in May my vote will count 5 or 6 times because so few people vote locally. And basically your grandparents are voting like crazy (not that we don’t love our grandparents) but do you want them determining the trajectory of the city for the next 50 years ( your 50 years).

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