The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, June 09, 2000

The Big Normal Majority needs your participation

By The Building Tradesman

Are you one of Michigan's 7.1 million registered voters?

If not, why not?

Winston Churchill said "the best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter." But as we noted in our last edition, humorist Will Rogers said our country is where it is today "on account of the common sense of the Big Normal Majority."

It's true that there's plenty of inattention and laziness by the electorate, but the United States has survived and thrived and received direction for more than 200 years from the common sense of the average voter.

This year, Michigan voters will have several opportunities to give direction to their local, county, state and national governments, when it comes time to vote. The statewide primary will take place Tuesday, Aug. 8, and the general election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 7. But if you're not registered to vote, those dates and the opportunities they stand for mean nothing.

This is an especially important year. Voters will have the opportunity to elect our nation's next president, a U.S. Senator, Members of Congress, the makeup of the Michigan Supreme Court, as well as numerous county officials, local judges, and mayoral and city council members.

Voter registration is easy. Register for any federal, state and local elections by mail or by visiting your city, county or township clerk's office or any of the 178 Secretary of State branch offices.

The deadline to register to vote is 30 days before Election Day. In 2000, the last day to register for the state primary is July 10; the last day to register for the General Election is Oct. 10.

Once you register to vote, you can request an absentee ballot if you are 60 or older, disabled, or expect to be out of town on Election Day.

In Michigan, 3.9 million voters cast a ballot in the 1996 presidential election - 55.3 percent of the voting age population. Interestingly, we think voter apathy is something that has come about only in recent years. But in 1948, when Harry Truman defeated Thomas Dewey for the presidency, the percentage of voting age population in Michigan was 52.2 percent - even worse than it was in 1996.

The percent of Michigan's voting age population who cast ballots increased from 1948 to 1960 to 72.7 percent, when President Kennedy was elected. From there that percentage has gone steadily downhill, interrupted only by a bump up of 62.5 percent when President Clinton was first elected in 1992.