## But will the voters show up?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 15, 2011

We’ve all been at a party where “politics” gets mentioned by that guy with a smirk on his face because he just watched the news and wants to talk about the latest headline. After throwing out some far out position on the topic, a loud discussion begins with everyone taking sides and insulting the other group’s intelligence.

Everyone in attendance becomes an expert on the subject matter at hand and defends their position with the confidence of a scientist defending his latest research. Eventually, everyone walks away thinking they were right and the others were wrong, but at least everyone cares about the community, nation, world, right? Do they?

Barely 50 percent of the general population is registered to vote and of that hardly 50 percent actually take the time to vote on Election Day. If you do the math, you quickly see only 25 percent of the population is determining our leadership. So if someone wins with 51 percent of the vote it actually means that 12.5 percent of the general population supported the winner.

Why don’t people register? Why don’t those who are registered take a few minutes out of their lives to cast a vote for their leaders?

The average citizen wonders why their elected officials don’t listen to them, but when you look at the fact that you can get elected in America by 12.5 percent of the general population, it is no wonder that getting a politician to listen to an opposing viewpoint is so difficult. They don’t need the other 87.5 percent of the population’s support.

Take the last St. John Parish President election as an example. In the run-off Natalie Robottom faced sitting Councilman-at-Large Dale Wolfe. Robottom was elected with 55 percent of the vote. Sounds like a lot, right? Here are the total numbers. St. John Parish’s latest population is 45,924, and 33,204 can vote. Mrs. Robottom was elected last year with 55 percent of the votes cast on Election Day, which translates to 6,048 votes. When you compare those 6,048 votes with the total voting age population, Mrs. Robottom was elected parish president by only 18.2 percent of eligible voters. I cite the above statistics to merely show the low levels of voter participation, not to discount Mrs. Robottom’s victory.

We often talk about our leaders being elected by the people. Does that really mean anything when hardly any of “the people” actually vote? If you know someone who isn’t registered to vote, convince them to be a part of the process. If you know someone who never votes, make that person understand their vote matters, and the direction of our community, state and nation depends on their participation.

The last bite…

Imagine a feast of boiled jumbo shrimp, spicy boiled crabs and lots of sausage, corn, mushrooms and garlic cooked so tender that I used it as butter on my potatoes! This is the feast my dad prepared for the family Sunday. To top off the amazing meal of southern flavors, my mom prepared a cold old-fashioned banana and vanilla wafer pudding that brought me back to childhood for a second. I give Mom and Dad’s cooking 5 (out of 5) crumbs!

Buddy Boe, a resident of Garyville, owns a public relations and program management company and is well known on the local political (and food) scenes. His column appears Wednesdays in L’Observateur.