Editorial: Voter turnout is grim

Pic­ture a packed Cit­izens Bank Park with only the people in the front rows ac­tu­ally pay­ing at­ten­tion to the game even though every­body paid a nice buck to get in. 

On Nov. 5, there was a com­par­ably, al­beit pre­dict­ably, goofy event here in Philly. There was an elec­tion and only about one in 10 re­gistered voters paid any at­ten­tion to it. 

Yeah, this is about last week’s mar­gin­al turnout, but re­lax, we’re not go­ing to com­plain about ig­nor­ance or apathy, or talk about civic duty or pat­ri­ot­ism. Yawn. 

That would be preach­ing, and you get preached at so much you stopped hear­ing it dec­ades ago. No, this is name-call­ing.

You’re worse than see-through. You’re in­vis­ible.

If you can’t both­er to be seen on elec­tion day, nobody’s go­ing to look your way any oth­er day.

There is more to elec­tions than just pick­ing the win­ners. Elec­tions are about be­ing there — year after year — and be­ing coun­ted as be­ing there. 

The only people of­fice­hold­ers really see are the people who go to the polls. They’re the only ones who mat­ter to them. It’s not so much how they voted; it’s that they showed up. They can’t be ig­nored; at least, not eas­ily.

The tax man, on the oth­er hand, sees every­body who’s got something to tax, and he doesn’t care about any­thing but your money. Your tax dol­lars are your tick­ets to live in Philly, and the tick­ets aren’t cheap. You should be get­ting more out of the game. 

This city nev­er has enough re­sources to go around. Typ­ic­ally, that means the neigh­bor­hoods with the strongest voter turnouts are go­ing to get big­ger slices of the al­ways shrink­ing civic pie just like the spe­cial-in­terest groups that make the largest polit­ic­al con­tri­bu­tions are. They’re seen and get seen to, and, yes, none of that is ever go­ing to be fair. 

Want more cops rolling down your streets and show­ing up soon­er than two hours after you called? Want a nurse in your kids’ school? Want stricter zon­ing en­force­ment on your block so flo­p­h­ouses can’t just open up and stay open? Want more com­puters in your loc­al lib­rary branch? 

To get a shot at any of that, you have to mat­ter. You have to be there on elec­tion day. You al­ways have to be there on every elec­tion day.

The next one will be in the spring. It’s your chance to be seen. ••

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