Few other events galvanize Americans more so than presidential elections. Take the 2008 election, for example. More than 132 million Americans cast ballots, the most ever. But how does that compare with other big events? For example, last year’s Super Bowl attracted 111 million viewers! The 57 percent voter turnout in the 2008 election was the highest since the 1968 presidential election between Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey, when 60 percent of eligible voters went to the polls.
That’s not bad, but in 1840, 80 percent took part in that presidential election, which is the record for the highest percentage turnout ever. For history buffs, incumbent Martin Van Buren lost to William Henry Harrison, in what was a pretty nasty campaign. Van Buren’s opponents called him, “Martin Van Ruin.”
As we all know, today’s presidential elections have their share of bite, as well. Political TV advertisements throw some pretty tough punches. The debates for this year’s contest were feisty. And many pundits argue that the electorate is more divided than ever, as we head to the polls this Election Day.
But when we do our civic duty, the most amazing thing will likely happen. If recent history is a guide, the voting process will be done in a mostly peaceful, civilized manner. We may have our differences – some of them stark – but we cherish our right to vote as a people.
As a public involvement and communications firm, we see the positive, enthusiastic response we get from people when they are allowed a voice in projects. That involvement is key to bridging gaps and reaching a consensus. Last month’s “Big Project” theme showed that some of the nation’s most meaningful projects were in large part due to that involvement and ongoing communications so that people could envision as well as live through the construction… and pay off the project bonds – together. We know what a difference it makes when people participate.
It’s why we find Election Day so compelling. And it’s why our election process will be the subject of this month’s blog postings. We applaud it, celebrate it and don’t take it for advantage.
We will begin our look into Elections, with interviews from two upbeat people. We’ll hear from Chrissy Faessan, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Rock the Vote, which involves pop culture stars and social media strategies to energize young people to vote. And, we’ll hear from our own team member, Rebekah Hook, about her experience volunteering at the polls to help people vote.
Later in the month, we’ll hear from guests about how our voluntary system stacks up against mandatory voting systems in other nations, as well as look at ways we may vote in the future.
Just one day to go to elections. May we all – young and otherwise – rock our vote.
Mike Stetz, Senior Writer
Collaborative Services, Inc.