One lesson that seems to escape too many of WC’s buddies is the importance of protecting what is valuable to you. WC will grant you that Adelie Penguins have it a little easier than humans, let alone citizens of a republic. Protect the egg. Protect the cobbles that make the nest. Feed and protect the chick. Pretty straightforward.
The U.S. Constitution expects just a bit more from American citizens. We’re expected to exercise our right to vote, to serve on juries when required and to pay our taxes in full and on time. In return, we don’t have to take on the Antarctic Skuas of the world all on our own.
Too many of WC’s buddies think that it is okay not to vote.
In the 2010 general election, State voting records show that just one-third of registered voters bothered to vote: 33.65%. Sure, the voter rolls are a little out of date, but still. 164,000 votes in an election that involved a bare-knuckles fight for the U.S. Senate and election of a governor.
If you dig a little deeper, it’s even worse. The percentage who vote is based upon registered voters. That’s approximately 495,000 citizens. Probably 15-20% of those persons no longer live in Alaska, have died or are otherwise ineligible to vote. WC can’t find hard data. But at a guess, there are about 420,000 bona fide registered Alaska voters in the state.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census of Alaska, there are about 525,000 citizens in Alaska who are 18 years of age or older.
So there may be as many as another 100,000 citizens of Alaska who can’t be troubled to even register to vote.
Now you can argue that we don’t want participation from folks who don’t care enough to vote, or even to register to vote. But that’s not how a democracy works.
WC has seen proposals that proof of voting should be required to obtain an Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend if you are 18 years old or older. No vote, no PFD. It wouldn’t be hard to do; a computer run against two electronic databases. It shouldn’t be necessary. It smacks of extortion. But maybe it is necessary. Maybe if the PFD is placed in jeopardy, maybe if the PFD is expressly made something citizens have to protect, they’ll protect it and vote.
It’s not a new idea. WC isn’t the first to suggest it. And WC admits to reservations about the whole idea. Readers?