Despite the “nuttiness” of this election cycle, I cast my ballot in today’s South Carolina primary elections.
Each time I walk into the polling place in my precinct, I am reminded of the rights and privileges we have a citizens of a democratic state that allows us to select our representation for local, state, and national government. And, each time I go, I am reminded of the number of people who take this right for granted.
Conway Belangia, director of the Greenville County Election Commission, expected today’s voter turnout to be between 18 and 20 percent, as reported in the Greenville News (T. Smith, A1). My hope, like Belangia’s, is that his estimate will prove to be remarkably low: proof that this citizenry feels empowered to be heard.
In the School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte, our school’s mission is to prepare consumers and creators of communication messages to become engaged citizens, advocates and leaders in the communities they serve. Being an advocate and a leader in the community requires each of us to be a citizen of the community first.
I hope that, like my students, my peers are empowered to be citizens: to read and assess the messages sent out by political candidates and action groups, to critically evaluate those messages, and to make decisions about which causes move them to action. On primary election day, candidates place themselves before the citizenry and make their causes known. Each of us may agree with some candidates and disagree with others. And, each of us has the right to voice that opinion.
Voting days cause us to become educated, to make decisions, and to act as members our communities. And, even though the leaders and advocates in politics can seem nutty at times, when it comes to elections, the true nuttiness can be seen in those who decline to participate as citizens.