Nothing is cuter than kindergartners learning about voting by casting ballots for the color and shape of next year’s Waitsfield dog tags. Kindergartners are cute no matter what they are doing.
But there’s more to cuteness than Waitsfield Town Clerk Jennifer Peterson’s effort to teach the youngest amongst us about the importance of voting and how even though you may not always get the outcome you wanted, it’s important to do your part and participate.
There’s no age that is too young to teach kids about the importance of voting. We can start with efforts such as Peterson’s and reinforce that work by modeling voting ourselves. That work should be carried out in our schools and at home.
Some 21.89 percent of Vermont’s registered voters cast ballots in the state’s August primary election and that was considered a great turnout compared to years past. During the 2014 primary election voter turnout in Vermont was slightly over 9 percent.
According to a Washington Post analysis done after the 2016 presidential election there were approximately 232 million people eligible to vote that year. Of those people 62,980,160 voted for Donald Trump and 65,845,063 voted for Hillary Clinton. Another 6.2 million votes were cast for third party candidates.
Forget for the moment any frustrations with the fact that the Electoral College resulted in Trump winning the presidency despite losing the popular vote by almost three million votes. That’s an argument for another day.
Focus instead on the fact that, of the approximately 232 million voters almost 100 million people did not vote, 55 percent did, 45 percent didn’t.
Even given how many people were unenthused about the two major party candidates, that’s a lot of people who stayed home. That trend is not new. Voter turnout in 2000 was 50.3 percent. It was 55.7 in 2004 and 58.2 in 2008, then 54.6 in 2012.
Any efforts we can make, starting with kindergartners as well as ongoing education in and outside of schools about the importance of voting and our responsibility to vote will be time well spent.
Here’s hoping Peterson’s efforts translate from the micro level to the macro level.