| Things to think about
In countries where
voting has only recently become a privilege, voter turnouts
are very high: for example, 92 percent in Uzbekistan and 91
· Voter turnout
varies substantially, depending on what offices are up for election.In elections where candidates are on TV and widely known, such as for
governor or president, voter turnout has been fair to good.
However, in elections for local office - the elections that
often affect us the most - voter turnout is dismal. 1999 saw
the lowest voter turnout in recent history.
is the fundamental way that we exercise our right to self-government.
Voter turnout is the basic measure of how many of us are exercising
this right. Through voting, we express our desires and set our
priorities for less poverty, more jobs, a cleaner environment,
less crime, and better education. When we vote, we fulfill an
opportunity that few people have had throughout history, and
for which people in this country and others have fought and
died. Turnout for national (and gubernatorial) elections has
declined only slightly. However, turnout for legislative/local
elections has declined dramatically, reaching a record low turnout
of just 31 percent of registered voters in 1999.
is about economics. It puts into government the decision-makers
who will promote job growth, fight for our social values, and
commit themselves to ensuring that our economy is the foundation
of our social and environmental health.
voting leaves decisions about our water, air, parks, forests,
wetlands, open spaces, and hazardous materials in the hands
of other people, sometimes those who have a vested or financial
interest in the outcome. By voting, we can act to ensure that
decisions about the environment are in the best interest of
all New Jerseyans, instead of that of a vocal or influential
When we vote, we exercise
our most fundamental right as citizens of a democracy. A decline
in voting may signal a negative change in how invested we are
as citizens of a common state or country, and in how much of
ourselves we are willing to give to build a common future. By
voting, we participate in a public dialogue about New Jersey
that brings us together and makes us a more unified society.
This indicator only measures the percent of
registered voters who vote. It does not take into account people
who are eligible but not registered. It does not take into account
the significance of recent increases in the number of voters
due to automatic voter registration initiatives, such as the
program run by Motor Vehicles Services. We interact with our
government in many other ways besides voting, including through
campaign contributions, letters to newspapers, and direct conversations.
In the future, it will be worthwhile to create measures of these
Source: NJ Department of Law & Public Safety