Next Tuesday, November 6 is Election Day. Though the reminders are all around us, from lawn signs to near-constant political ads, we know that many Americans will choose not to vote. In recent years, voter turn-out in presidential election years has hovered around 60% of eligible voters. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 64% of citizens voted in 2008, a similar percentage to 2004. And although younger citizens (ages 18-24) turned out in larger numbers in 2008, that age group still had the lowest voting rate (49 percent), while citizens who fell into older age groups (45-64 and 65-plus) had the highest voting rates (69 percent and 70 percent, respectively).
While there are many reasons why individuals will choose not to head to the polls on November 6: I hope you will decide to vote. In addition to the presidential election, there are U.S. Senate and House elections, as well as state races and several ballot questions in Massachusetts. If you need more information about where to vote or to view a sample ballot, please visit http://www.wheredoivotema.com/, a site maintained by the Massachusetts Secretary of State.
The truth is, the stakes are too high to sit on the sidelines. I believe this election is about three things. First, voters are looking for lasting solutions to the real challenges of how we support small businesses, create good jobs, educate our children, honor our veterans and military families, take care of our seniors and families in need, protect our environment and responsibly manage our fiscal position. These solutions must be driven by effective partnerships between government, the private sector, schools and non-profits. I have used these partnerships to effectively reform pensions and municipal healthcare, provide more equitable education funding, increase public safety and reform our tax system. And I know more work remains ahead.
Second, we all want less divisiveness and more cooperation in the political process. Massachusetts voters understand – and rightly expect – that elected officials have strongly held views. But we must continue to find common ground to move our communities forward. We do not need less debate, but more reasonable debate. Because if we can’t talk about good ideas in a sensible way, they will be dismissed long before they ever have the chance to work.
Third, I believe we have a shared responsibility to preserve communities rooted in opportunity and equality. That is why one of my top priorities is ensuring all cities, towns and school districts have the resources they deserve to educate every child. It is also why I will continue to be a leading advocate for investing in early education and our youngest learners.
The issues that matter to you may not be the same issues that matter to your neighbor or your coworker. But one thing is clear: your vote does matter. I encourage you make your voice heard and vote on Tuesday.