What gives?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 27, 2011

If you’re reading this newspaper, you’re probably an active voter, so say the statistics. Have you ever thought about how much of your time is consumed by people who want to talk politics and politicians yet are actually not voting?

The ballot on Oct. 22, 2011, will look much the same as it did in October 2007, the date of the last statewide and parish election primary.

In 2007 in St. Charles Parish, 56.38 percent of registered voters turned out in the October primary and 25.61 percent in the November run-off.

In St. James Parish, the October turn-out was 68.24, and in November it was 56.78 percent.

In St. John Parish, turn-out that October was 55.41 percent and in November it was 45.19. There is always a fall-off in participation between the dates, perhaps because there are fewer candidates drawing supporters out who are dedicated only to them and not the electoral process.

How did it come to this when women in this country couldn’t vote until 1920, at which time one of my grandmothers was 14 years old and the other was 4 years old, and African Americans have only been allowed to vote since 1965? Both privileges were brought about by years-long movements of great sacrifice of human dignity and even life. How can anyone of voting age not honor those brave warriors?

Many of you get tired of TV and radio ads during election season and of the phone calls and mail pieces that target your household. Must candidates inundate us in this manner just to get us to vote? Looking at the numbers; apparently so.

But there’s more come election day, sign waving at intersections, bullhorns and motorcades, and I’ve even seen an actual cheerleading squad called to duty.

Campaigns are scientific endeavors. Campaign professionals access public information to know if you would find your way to the poll if pigs were flying or if hell were freezing over. There are certain numbers of you who have a perfect score when it comes to voting. And yes, you do have a score. The more faithfully you vote, the more you will hear from us. But don’t get frustrated with the love you are being shown. That’s something to be proud of, actually. You are indeed special and a hot commodity. You bear a big responsibility in the community. You choose who will lead us and set public policy for the masses.

It’s not too late to be in that number. Sept. 21 is the deadline to register and be eligible to vote in the Oct. 22 election this year. Early voting is Oct. 8 through Oct. 15, seven bonus days, including two Saturdays. Voting hours in Louisiana are from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., among the longest in the nation.

What’s your excuse?

Renee Lapeyrolerie, a native of Reserve, is the executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. She can be reached at relaps@aol.com.