Quoting the NY Times quoting Al Sharpton, Aug 19, 2014:
“On Sunday the Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights activist and television host, mentioned that voter turnout in Ferguson, Mo., was a mere 12 percent in the last election, and pledged to help boost that number with a registration drive.”
Ferguson, Missouri has been in the news for the death of a young black man at the hands of a white policeman, and the subsequent protests and demonstrations along with overwhelmingly forceful response by a militarized and mostly white police force. This is a community that has changed demographically over the past decade or so, from being predominately white to being about 2/3 African American.
And yet the mayor is white, the city council is all white except for one, the police chief is white and the police force is about 96% white. The elected officials hire the police chief and are responsible for police policies.
Divisions and injustices have been seething for years, and many of the demonstrators are protesting not only one wrongful death, but the unjust treatment they receive on a daily basis, year in and year out.
If only 12% of the people vote, how can they elect a local government that is responsive to their needs and concerns?
Ferguson is a stark example of unbalanced, bad government that hurts us all every day, in every town and city in the country.
No system is perfect, and it’s never easy for ordinary citizens to control the government. It may be hard to get the right ID to satisfy the new voter ID laws. Your feet may hurt waiting in line to vote in precincts where early voting has been curtailed. It’s way too easy to succumb to apathy because “my vote doesn’t count”.
Clearly, in Ferguson, if everyone who feels strongly about the recent terrible events were to get out and vote, not just this November but in every primary and every general election…well, we all know what would happen then…they would end up with a local government that looks like them, responds to their concerns, and makes the kinds of changes that need to be made everywhere across the country.
Mike Clark, 21 August 2014