The intensity of this presidential election cycle makes it hard to believe we have a voter turnout problem in this country — but we do. Which is why the League of Women Voters of the San Antonio Area (LWVSAA) is teaming up enthusiastically with recording artist Patty Griffin and touring mates Sara Watkins and Anais Mitchell at their March 23 concert at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. The event is part of a 39-city nationwide tour dubbed “Use Your Voice” to entertain audiences and empower voters.
At the concert, local League of Women Voters volunteers will be on-hand to help fans get the election information they need, including how to update their voter registration, find easy-to-understand local candidate and voting information, or learn about getting involved in the League’s work to engage voters nationwide.
“I am so excited about this upcoming tour,” Griffin said. “It all started with me looking for a way to participate in the world as I’ve grown older – you know, complain a little less, do a little more. I then came across information that was surprising to me about voting in the U.S.: single women are an incredibly influential voting group, and too many are not turning out to vote. This is troubling on a lot of levels, but the most troubling one to me is that so many in this group, of which I am a member, find so little to connect with in the workings of government. So little that we don’t bother.
“I am hoping with this tour to bang the drum about our democracy, about our communities, and even about our neighbors down the street.”
The LWVSAA is excited to be a part of this inspiring tour. With Election Day 2016 on the horizon, now is the time for us to take advantage of any and all opportunities to talk with voters about how much their voice matters, help our neighbors make sure their voter registration is up to date and get them the information they need to cast a vote.
The interest in the 2016 election and Use Your Voice provides the LWVSAA an important opportunity to introduce voters to non-partisan tools the League of Women Voters makes available to help voters be more informed and more engaged. While many lament the negative tone this election has taken, people are paying attention, and the LWVSAA intends to use every opportunity to encourage voter turnout in greater numbers.
Voter turnout nationwide during presidential elections has been declining, with turnout around 58% in 2012. By comparison, countries like Austria, Sweden and Italy turnout approximately 80% of eligible voters. In Texas, less than 45% of eligible voters went to the polls in 2012.
Sadly, most of us don’t vote beyond the presidential elections. Voter turnout in Texas in the 2014 midterm elections, when we elected Greg Abbott governor, was the second lowest in the nation. Only 28.5%t of eligible voters cast their vote at a poll. When you get to local elections in San Antonio, turnout for the 2015 mayoral elections, another high-visibility election, was approximately 12%.
And yet, it’s our vote in our local and state elections where our voice has the most impact on our daily lives. All the things we take for granted, like safe drinking water, reliable electricity, law enforcement, fire and EMS services, traffic control, schools, neighborhood centers, libraries, parks, safe and affordable homes, police and fire stations, are all decisions that are made on the local level.
The reasons are many and complicated why people don’t vote. Certainly, feeling well prepared at the polls is a factor, and finding unbiased information about the candidates can be a daunting task. Opportunities like the Use Your Voice Tour allow the LWVSAA to talk with people about voting, and share information about our non-partisan Voters Guide, VOTE411.org, and even make them aware of where to turn for opportunities to meet and hear from candidates.
We are grateful to artists Patty Griffin, Sara Watkins, Anais Mitchell and Columbia Artists Management for providing a time and space for educating and encouraging Americans to exercise their Constitutional Right and civic responsibility. We look forward to meeting concert-goers Wednesday night and to making democracy work.
For more information on the concert and ticket prices, which start at $29.50, click here.
*Top image: The Tobin Center for the Performing Arts during the 2015 U.S. Army Soldier Show. Photo by Scott Ball.