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The soon-to-go-to-bed S. Mitra Kalita here again. CNN just reported that by 10 a.m. EST, the rain-soaked state of Virginia had already seen between 30-40% of total registered voters vote. That is amazing, considering that it's a good year if just over HALF of Americans vote by the end of the whole thing. Seeing the lines, umbrellas, parents balancing babies and others with briefcases, and then interviews with first-time voters, I couldn't help but liken the images to the polls of new or young democracies in other countries. And here in India, where voting is a long process, sometimes with the celebration accorded to religious festivals, the footage held particular resonance. Are we seeing Americans' newfound engagement with politics? Or is this just one day? I have been out of the U.S. for two years, but spent three decades there and don't think its everyday interest and discourse in and on politics holds a single Diwlai diya (candle) to what I have seen in India! What do YOU think ? 

Comments

( Comment )
(no subject) - fmsilk - Nov. 4th, 2008 06:41 pm (UTC)
fauxklore wrote:
Nov. 4th, 2008 06:46 pm (UTC)
For what it's worth, the line this time in my precinct in northern Virginia was about the same as the line 4 years ago. However, I doubt we're typical. My Congressional district, for example, is regarded as the most affluent within the U.S. and was specifically designed to be a "fair fight." (If you can judge by lawn signs, the only race that will be a walkaway here is the one for governor.)

The figure on turnout is only significant if you can compare it to turnout at the same time of day in past elections.
kwsapphire wrote:
Nov. 4th, 2008 07:08 pm (UTC)
I think the turnout is more indicative of the general feeling of fed-up-edness among Americans, and doubt this will have any bearing on future elections. Just my opinion, though, I could be wholly wrong. :P
daynr wrote:
Nov. 4th, 2008 08:10 pm (UTC)
The statistics aren't out for this year, but statistics for % of Americans who vote out of people who are eligible to vote (not the common statistics of people who vote out of people of voting age, which obviously includes many residents/citizens who aren't eligible) show that the U.S., over the last 40 years (length of time the numbers are available) has consistently voted at about 85% for Presidential elections.

It would be awesome if it was higher than 85% this year, but it's not a good year if only half of Americans vote, nor is likely that there are many Presidential elections where only 50% of eligible voters vote.
calchandler wrote:
Nov. 4th, 2008 08:10 pm (UTC)
I was certainly in one of those long lines, but thankfully early enough that I was in the front. I found it rather heartwarming to see so many people out to vote so early, and so many of them new voters.

While I doubt we Americans will be this engaged in politics in our everyday life, I can only hope that this will bring more interest than there has been in the past.
( Comment )