Watching Maine On Election Day

 Guest Blogger: TheAngriestLiberal

While most people spent election night watching the outcome of SB5 Ohio, I watched the election happenings in Maine. 1980 was a big year for me personally. It was the first time I’d lived in the United States since I was a small child.  I went to boarding school for my senior year of high school; my parents really thought I should know what it is like to be in America, to go to school in America and to learn to be an American. Boarding school… well that is a whole other story, but yes I ended up in Maine in boarding school and it was my first taste of living in the US for many years, I’d always been an expatriate, I was about to be something else.

I turned 18 in near the end of September in 1980. I’d wanted to exercise my vote since my dad handed me All the Presidents Men, in September of 1974, when we were flying back to the PI from the US at the end of our summer vacation. Reading that book on the plane trip over, back then it took much longer, with a layover in Guam. One time, and it could have been this particular trip our layover was on Wake Island because a large typhoon developed in the flight path and the pilots weren’t going to be in the air, so I remember I read the book in one flight, we had to layover on Wake Island for 8 hours in the tiny little airport and I finished the book before we landed in Manila.

I was taking the required class, American Government, which was not a required class in my school,  but I was quite interested to take it, I’d taken World Governments as our required class. I was interested in learning about how the American form of government differed from where I had come, where I’d lived through Martial Law, a military dictatorship, curfews, suspended elections, and other things that seemed the opposite of everything I’d ever read about the United States, where the will of the people was decided through mostly fair elections.

I was kind of over the top thrilled, going from a place where I could never discuss politics to the US where I could even participate in an election, openly talk about candidates, argue about beliefs and ideologies, Anderson was all the rage among many of the politically active students on campus that fall, and have no fear of any kind of retribution. It was pretty freeing.  I’d learned in our government class that if you were going to be 18, even the day of the election, in Maine you could register to vote the day of your birthday and vote in the election that year.  Sept. 23, 1980, a friend in school took me down to the city offices and I registered to vote.  I am so glad that Mainers voted to reinstate that law.

Unfortunately, in America more people don’t vote than do vote. The proof of course is in the numbers. The question has to be asked, why don’t more people vote? Is it because it is getting harder and harder to exercise that right? Currently legislative actions that will disenfranchise millions of voters are being proposed by multiple state legislatures. It is pretty obvious that legislatures are seeking to disenfranchise those voters with least protections, which are poor people everywhere, who by and large vote for Democrats.

I think you should look at the numbers, here is a link to the original spreadsheet I obtained at the US Census Bureau.  This attachment includes the workbook I built out of the data from the department and I made a simple graphs of the downward trend in voting among all groups, socio-economic or otherwise, but in particular a steep downward trend among the poor and undereducated.

Graph 1: This link will give you a larger version of this graph so it is easier to see.

This is a very interesting graph.  The Northeast steeply dropped in eligible voters exercising their right to vote, which is kind of interesting to me, and it makes me wonder exactly what happened, did people just give up and decided it isn’t a worthwhile activity any longer?  No conclusions can be drawn from this data, all this data does is mark the downward trend in voting, what we do see it eligible voters in the Midwest are consistently voting in higher numbers than other regions.

Graph 2: Voters by Educational Status:

This graph doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know, there is a very steep drop in those people voting who have no high school diploma. In earlier years that group voted with a much greater frequency, lower than the rest but certainly better than the under 10% today, in comparison to the 40% in 1968.

Graph 3: Voters by Labor Status

As a nation we really need to begin to understand why people aren’t voting with the frequency they once did.

Restrictive Voter Registration Laws

Current Restrictive Voter Registration Laws

Brennan Center for Justice, millions of voters could be disenfranchised.

If voting weren’t so important, why are so many Republicans tying to make sure fewer and fewer people will have the right to vote.

Crossposted @ TheAngriestLiberal

7 thoughts on “Watching Maine On Election Day

  1. Here in a small community in TN, the local Democratic Party is planning a forum to educate people on the newest voting restrictions and, most importantly, why voting should be so important to them. We’re also trying to register them. I’m sure this is going on all over the country. It’s very hard trying to get people to even attend a forum who have given up and just seem to not care what happens anymore. It’s like no matter what they did or tried to do, things only got worse. Trying to tell them it does make a difference what they now do is hard. Very hard. Even if we get only a few new voters, it will be worth the effort.

  2. In my 50 years of voting I have never had to show a photo ID, only sign next to my name on a list of registered voters in my precinct. Oft times my voter registration certificate, which I always carry, was not even asked for. However, next year (my 73rd year!) I will have to show my Texas Driver’s License in order to vote. In Texas. Under the new law passed by the Republican legislature, a student ID won’t allow one to vote. A permit to carry a concealed weapon will suffice as it is granted by a state agency but not a photo ID from a STATE-owned university (but then college students tend to be more liberal and vote Democratic). I can remember in college even being served in bars only showing a college photo ID as it was good business for tavern owners to have more customers. Some students, especially those from the NYC and Chicago areas (where they have good mass transit) didn’t have a driver’s license. Now states require a photo ID to buy an alcoholic drink. I get carded now at age 72, even turned away recently by a Houston sports bar doorman for not being “old enough” to enter!

    I cannot remember ever showing a photo or any kind of ID in order to register to vote. In 1972, recently a new citizen of California, I registered to vote in the nude on Black’s Beach in San Diego. There was a guy wearing only a McGovern plastic boater hat and nothing else, walking the beach with a clip board registering voters. Sure enough when it came time to vote, I was a LEGAL registered voter in California and voted! Somehow we have had elections in this nation since 1787 and only NOW requiring a photo ID. How did we ever survive putting so much trust in HONESTY??? /snark Of course photos didn’t even exist for about 100 years in our new nation’s history. Can you imagine George Washington carrying his Gilbert Stuart oil portrait to his voting precinct?

  3. Hearing the Reagan mantra repeated over-and-over that “government is the problem” and believing that most ALL politicians are crooks, many people feel it is not worth the time and trouble to vote anymore. Even though only 9% approve of Congress according to recent polling, when it comes to asking people if they will vote to re-elect THEIR Congressperson or Senator, they majorly answer, “Yes!” IOW it’s only those politicians from OTHER districts and states who are doing a sorry job. So incumbents tend to stay in office.

    The justice department MUST step in to ensure that people are not being deprived of their RIGHT to vote. With all of these new Republican “voter suppression” tactics, the right-wing is thumbing a nose towards the 1965 Voting Rights Act. We must never bring back racist Jim Crow policies. Republican legislatures/governors are playing games in Democratic areas by cutting the number of voting booths/machines in order to slow down voting hoping that long lines will turn away voters who don’t have much time to spare. Recently had a Democratic friend in Ohio texting to Facebook from her cell phone, being frustrated that her Ohio precinct (with a Democratic majority) has changed voting locations 4 times now in the last 10 years. She was frustrated that when she went to vote this month, the location had been moved again several miles farther away from the old site and she had to use her cell phone GPS to find the new address. I live in a Republican precinct and our voting location hasn’t been moved in 8 years now when a new elementary school in our growing residential area was first used.

  4. I think that Grant has a strong point about our voting system. Ever since Reagan people have been taught to distrust the government, to think that its something dirty and not to be trusted. They’d prefer to trust the likes of Fox News and other outlets over anything that the white house has to say and unfortunately ever since George W. Bush people have learned to distrust the government even more than before. Of course it doubtlessly goes beyond that because the distrust of government isn’t anything new but rather the education system and the outright fear of big government (a rather vague word if you think about it), has led way for more and more people to believe in conspiracy theories.

    The destructive side to all this is that it leads people to conclude (falsely) that there is no point to voting. The occupy movement has a lot of sides, I imagine that there are more Obama supporters than the media reports or that people like Cenk would like you to believe. To people like Cenk the Obama supporters in the movement are a mere minority. Of course every moment is a little different and its really hard to say because unfortunately there hasn’t been a real message, part of this reason I think is because much of the movement has been disorganized because corporations, including the media hiring people to keep it that way.

  5. I get tired of hearing that “ALL” politicians are crooked so it makes no difference who you “bother” to vote for. My grandfather was elected to county office for 20 years from age 60 to 80 and my dad was elected also to a 4 year term also near the end of his working career. I can vouch neither profited from their years in public office other than meager salaries. They wanted to serve their communities. Likewise my late brother-in-law who served two terms in the Indiana State Assembly. He made the mistake of making personal friendships with Democrat Birch Bayh and Indianapolis Mayor Richard Lugar, a moderate Republican, and was charged by the very right-wing John Birch Society as working “too much” across the aisle with Democrats (in Indiana Democrats tend to be conservative), compromising with them, even. To punish him, the John Birchers funded a most conservative to run against him in the primary which my brother-in-law lost. I am not aware he ever profited from his terms in the legislature.

  6. Local and State politicians are not owned by special interest like our Congress. Regardless of which party is in power, they are controlled by the special interest who provides the money to get reelected or to line their pockets.

    As we have heard about recently, there is nothing illegal when a politician takes non public information and issues a stock trade based on that information. They can take a $25000 donation to a dinner from a lobbyist but not a sit down mean. Republicans are owned by the oil industry and Wall Street money, Democrats are owned by Soros, unions and environmental groups. 200000 jobs waiting to be offered for construction of a pipeline and the administration bows to the environmentalists.

    Voting is a privileged not a right because it can be taken from you, You have to present an ID that you paid for to drive, carry a gun, cash a check, get a drink but not to vote. Where is the logic behind that. That is anon biased requirement that anyone can adhere to without any cost.

  7. Some states require a state ID card that is NOT FREE ($16 in Texas, $5 for over 60) that is nothing more than a POLL TAX.

    Such poll taxes were once used in the Old South to keep poor black voters away and deemed ILLEGAL in the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In Scott Walker’s Wisconsin, driver’s license branches were closed in many areas requiring voters to have to travel to another county for a state ID card. Believe it or not there are POOR people in our nation, people who have transportation and mobility problems. They were never denied to vote before. A 96 year old BLACK woman in Tennessee who has voted all of her life has been run through a maze of requirements now in order to be registered to vote.

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