Seven, 17, 23, 25, one. Seven, 17, 23, 25, one: no, not my lottery picks, but numbers I’ve been thinking about in the countdown to next week’s election. Let me explain.
Seven: It’s just seven days until November 4 — voting day — and I’m getting hoarse trying to talk folks into going to the polls. For any number of reasons, chiefly apathy and anger, people I know are saying they are not paying attention to this election.
Seventeen: I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but just 17 percent — me included — of all Massachusetts registered voters voted in September’s primary. I’m proud to say I was one of them. I was thrilled when I heard a poll worker once whisper behind my back, “She always votes.”
Twenty-three: Two years ago, only 23 percent of young people from 18 to 29 voted. Much was made of the youth vote back in the 2008 Presidential election. But, Harvard University’s Institute of Politics says less than one in four young people will vote next Tuesday. The IOP polled young Americans to find out why they are not voting. Top reasons: They are mad at Congress and disappointed in the president. Yet, as I’ve found in recent talks with college students, most don’t see the on- the-ballot election issues of minimum wage, paid sick leave, and interest rates to be the same as their issues. What did connect was my noting that it is their vote that could determine the legislators who will decide about student loans, income inequality, war, maybe even a new draft. Some committed to voting on the spot. I hope they do.
Twenty-five: I’m also calling out part of the sisterhood — unmarried white women. Twenty-five percent of the voting population is made up of these women, yet traditionally, they’ve stayed home for midterm elections. They represent a potential voting juggernaut, and it’s why women-centric political ads have been fast and furious. Polls suggest even though the economy is on a significant uptick, these women don’t yet feel the economic relief. More, unmarried women say they don’t hear their issues of workplace fairness, health insurance, and juggling the realities of single life being articulated by candidates. Hear me, unmarried women — it would only take a few more of you to impact the final result in many tight races.
Which brings me to a similar plea for my own demographic brothers and sisters. If past patterns hold, African Americans will also not turn out. But you’ve seen the power of your vote. And too many people died, and too many others continue to fight to protect your right to vote. Get thee to the voting booth.
Last number — one: I’m struck that so often the common sentiment shared by those who don’t vote is, "My one vote won’t make a difference." Not true. A few months ago, a coin flip decided a tied election in New Mexico. And a 177 to 177 tie in a recent Mississippi election will be decided randomly. In both cases, one vote would have changed the outcome.
Numbers make a difference, and you make the numbers. Vote.