Some 130 million voters will cast ballots by tomorrow and decide the fate of thousands of candidates, not to mention determine the direction of this nation for at least the next four years.
Here are some pre-election day thoughts.
• For a country that prides itself on democracy and the right to vote, very few of us actually do. America ranks near the bottom – 138th out of 169 – in voter turnout among the world’s democratic countries. Mongolia, Uganda and Tajikistan all have higher voter turnouts than the U.S.
• On a national scale, women vote more often than men. Whites vote more often than Hispanics or Asians, and by just 1 percent more than blacks.
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• Almost 86 percent (85.96) of Thurston County’s eligible voters turned out in 2008, compared with 82.75 in 2004, the previous presidential election year. Only 72 percent voted in the 2010 mid-term election.
• Thurston County voted 55 percent for John Kerry in 2004 and 60 percent for Obama in 2008.
• Did it surprise you that the caller from the Romney/Obama campaign office last night knew about your 15-year-old Labrador’s health issues? This year’s presidential campaign strategists have turned to data mining, using details of individual Web surfing habits to influence your vote.
It’s creepy that political volunteers are peering into your shopping histories and social networks, and know whether you’ve visited a porn site or have searched for foreclosure advice. But, in fact, the campaigns are just doing what retailers have been doing for years.
• Didn’t it seem odd that neither President Barack Obama or former Gov. Mitt Romney discussed climate change during the campaign? Given the increasing erratic weather patterns of the past year or so, including drought, floods, tornadoes and intense hurricanes, somebody should have brought it up.
The candidates no doubt saw the causes of climate change and what to do about it as no-win issues. It’s simply a topic that’s too big and too complicated to talk about in 10-second sound bites.
• There are confusing issues on our state’s ballot. Initiative 502 does not legalize marijuana, for example. It decriminalizes possession of small amounts by adults. Voting “yes” on Referendum 74 means you are in favor of giving same-sex couples the right to marry.
Thurston County voters might have been confused about whether to vote for Christine Schaller for Superior Court judge, because her eligibility for the position is being decided by the state Supreme Court. Her opponent, Jim Johnson, is party to a lawsuit claiming her residence in Pierce County disqualifies her from sitting on the bench in Thurston.
Schaller’s name is on the ballot because a Kitsap County Superior Court judge ruled she was eligible. The high court is expected to rule after the election.
• Both Obama and Romney returned again and again to domestic issues during the third and final debate of 2012, which was supposed to focus on foreign policy.
They could have taken a tip from President John F. Kennedy who stole the show from Richard Nixon in the first-ever televised debate in 1960. Kennedy talked about his foreign policy in relation to the Cold War.
He said, “In the election of 1860, Abraham Lincoln said the question was whether this nation could exist half-slave or half-free. In the election of 1960, and with the world around us, the question is whether the world will exist half-slave or half-free ... I think it will depend in great measure upon what we do here in the United States, on the kind of society that we build, on the kind of strength that we maintain.”