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Political notes from Free Press staff writers Terri Hallenbeck, Sam Hemingway and Nancy Remsen



Who's not voting?

All this talk about how very few people vote in primaries brings us back to the age-old question: Why do some people choose not to vote?

Apathy? Sure, there's that. But even a good number of people who vote in the November elections stay away from the primaries. Why?

University of Vermont political science professor Garrison Nelson (who's wisened by so many of years of experience that I was a student of his 26 years ago) said it's because the parties are doing so much of the candidate winnowing that the Average Voter wonders what's the point.

Or is it because some 40 percent of Vermont voters say they don't see themselves as affiliated with any party? If you pick a ballot at the polls, does that make you feel like you are one of them and that makes your skin crawl?

Or is Tuesday golf day and you just can't fit voting in? Then by November, golfing's pretty much history and skiing hasn't started.

Perhaps anyone reading a political blog doesn't fit into this category, but if you're out there and you're not going to vote, tell us why. You can do it here in the comment area of this blog, or you can leave your words of wisdom in the nifty new comment area at the end of our recent story on the primary, here.

Otherwise, get out and vote.

- Terri Hallenbeck

Professor Nelson is highly enjoyable!
Maybe if the parties stopped trying to defeat the purpose of the primary and let the voters decide, primaries might become important again. Of course, the parties do have a good point about the primary date being too late for the winner to have time for a strong general election campaign. The September primary is an anachronism from the days of Republican rule. Back then, we didn't need a long general election, because the winner of the Republican primary always won. Now that we have competitive (well, sometimes) elections, we need to have the primary moved back to June and let the party leadership stay neutral until after the primary.
Keep the primary as it is. Let's do whatever we can to shorten the campaign season. As it is we've had a LG candidate running for about a year. That's ridiculous.
I think the peeps who are reading this are much more likely to be leaning on the side of political junky rather than leaning towards apathy. Which is why I think JT had a stroke of genious by slapping that sticker ad onto the Freeps this morning, staring up in yellow wonder from thousands of front doorsteps this morning! Go JT!
Exactly. The late primary date no longer relieves us of early campaigning (I think Parker and Welch may have started first). I (and, I think, most voters) would prefer primaries to decide the candidates. However, as a simple matter of electoral survival, in this day and age of media saturation and big-money campaigns, if one side has no primary, it is suicide for the other side to wait until mid-September to have a single candidate.

The late primary is nothing more than an incumbent protection tool since lesser known opponents are denied sufficient time to "catch up."

Frankly, this ought to be something that all democracy-minded folks can agree on -- Republicans, Democrats, Progressives, etc.
I've been saving up my local rag (Colchester Sun) for the last month so that I can cull info in preparation for the primary. I have difficulty reading this paper because of the disgraceful way in which it came into existence, demolishing the existing weekly and leaving its owner out in the cold, with barely a penny for his years of labor.

Okay, so I should be following all the races like a good voter and know exactly whom I'll be voting for. I believe I have lots of company, though, in my lack of preparation. I can say, today, that the Colchester Sun, and I expect, many other local papers, has done a miserable job of informing its readers about the primary. Sure, there are canned announcements, and letters to the editor, but one looks far and futilely for even a party affiliation (and since one can complete a ballot for only one party, knowing which candidates are in which party is critical), much less a sample ballot, or at least a comprehensive list for each district.

I believe voting is the most important thing we have to do as humans in this country (besides helping the needful, being kind to animals, and getting out of the way of emergency vehicles). Our papers (and websites, also shockingly unhelpful) should be FULL of the information we need to vote intelligently. The weeklies should repeat this info in each issue for the final month. The information should be presented in such a way that spacy voters (like me) can compare them quickly, giving party affiliation and votes and opinions about certain critical issues. Whatever blather follows is wonderful and fills in the gaps, but without the basic information, I believe most potential voters drive by the polls, muttering to themselves that they'd just be picking names based on sex, ethnicity, pronounceability, whatever - anything but quality of character, relevance, commitment to the issues held important by the voter - in short - the things that matter.

Help us vote, you journalists! That's your job!
The reason people dont vote in primaries is due to a lack of understanding about what a primary is and what it does in an election. As I talked with a fellow co-worker about the election and whom he was going to vote for he simply replied to me,"What's a primary for?". You could say that most of the poor turnout is due to not knowing fully whats at stake and what the primary accomplishes. It's due to a poor highschool education and the fact that schools are not required to teach civics and economics and many other vital tools for basic every day living. I would say that the majority of people who dont vote in primarys are those people who dont take a vested intrest in society and are those people who go on day after day complaining to everyone how crappy their lives are because of the taxes being too high and because the road to work is falling apart. To simply put the reasoning behind most people not voting is "Their DUMB".
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