Wednesday, October 10, 2018
The original version of this story contained a misspelling of Justice Brett Kavanaugh's last name. It has been corrected.
Turmoil over the recent confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court is far from over.
The Senate confirmation vote, including the drama that led up to it, is fixed in the memories of every American who was paying attention to the process and, of course, to the outcome.
Sentiments are strong whether in support or opposition to Kavanaugh's taking that seat on the high court.
There is plenty of speculation on what the impact will be, particularly on the midterm elections that are now less than a month away.
Predictions of a "blue wave" election to wrest control of one or both houses of the Congress from their Republican majorities have been met with more recent reports about a countering "red wave" to hold the House and Senate.
People on both sides of the political divide are arguably energized and determined to elect "their" candidates.
We'll see about that.
Yes, a lot of people do fret these days about what has become of our government, about the loss of civility, the unresponsiveness of those elected to represent us.
There are actually people on both sides of the political divide concerned about such issues.
However, the people who fall into that category are, again, the ones who have been paying attention.
Too many others are content to ignore the ramifications of our politics, of decisions such as the Kavanaugh confirmation and of all manner of policy shifts within the federal government.
That's not really good enough for truly democratic government. Participation at the ballot box, if not more, is required of more of the population.
Out of the massive numbers of people who are of voting age and therefore could vote, far too few register. Of those who do register, not all bother to vote.
In 2016, voter turnout nationally was reportedly at roughly 55 percent of voting age citizens. That was a markedly low showing, but even in the best of times, only about 10 percent more have turned out. That was in 2008, when nearly 64 percent of voting age citizens cast ballots.
In Arkansas in 2016, turnout was just under 65 percent of the 1.76 million registered voters then. The percentage was better than the national average but it was evidence still that more than 35 percent of Arkansas' registered voters simply didn't vote.
Remember, all of these numbers are from presidential election years, when turnout is always better.
Look back to the primary elections in Arkansas this year to see how staggeringly low turnout can be for a midterm election. Turnout didn't even break 19 percent in this state. More than four out of five registered voters sat out the May primaries.
A lot of effort has been expended nationally to improve voter participation, to get more people registered and to get them to vote.
Chances are, the change won't be all that dramatic in this state.
We'll get a fresh number soon on just how many Arkansans are registered to vote for the upcoming election. The deadline was Tuesday.
Then we'll see how many actually vote early or show up at the polls on Nov. 6.
While there are plenty of state and local races and ballot questions that need voter attention, most of the current angst is focused squarely on the federal government. And Arkansas just isn't much of a player this year on the national front.
Neither of this state's U.S. senators is on the ballot this year. Only one of the four races for the U.S. House of Representatives even appears competitive. And, of course, the next presidential election isn't until 2020.
Commentary on 10/10/2018
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