How about a compulsory voting law?

Editor November 10, 2016 Comments Off on How about a compulsory voting law?
How about a compulsory voting law?

There has been a lot of discussion in recent weeks and months about whether America “will survive” the very contentious presidential election that concluded on Tuesday.
I, for one, have no concerns about that and I received confirmation of that when I went to vote on Tuesday.
My family is certainly one that takes our voting privilege seriously and my wife particularly deserves the credit for leading the way in teaching our four children, and now our grandchildren, about the importance of voting.
My wife homeschooled our kids and made our political system a priority to teach about, but never more so than every four years when a presidential election came about.
Of course, this year’s election gave her more to talk about than ever and I could tell she enjoyed it all the way to the end.
If you wonder whether our kids or grandkids have a general awareness of the presidential election it was made very clear on Tuesday morning when my 4-year-old granddaughter, Reagan, got out of bed and said to her mom, “Oh, I really hope Donald Trump wins today!”
Yes, she heard lots of conversation about the election in the past days, especially when she was around my wife—the family leader when it comes to political awareness and news.
When we were ready to go vote on Tuesday my wife, as usual, made it as much a family affair as possible, depending who might be around our house at the time. This week it was like a voting party as my wife and I were joined by our 28-year-old daughter, while Reagan’s mom had to go to a different polling location so she took all three of her children with her.
As I stood in line at the polls I noticed something that gave me a good feeling. Many young voters were there—I mean young people as in early 20s. And I didn’t see their mom or dad dragging them to the polls.
I saw young parents with little kids, and even though the little ones couldn’t yet vote, it was setting a good example to them about the importance to go vote.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am still bothered by the low percentage of people who take the time to register so they can vote and that is certainly something we need to consider.
I heard a recent conversation about that and learned something I never knew—some countries make it the law that you must go vote. Over 20 countries, including Australia, have a compulsory voting law and they actually get over 90 percent of the people to the polls! There is a minor fine for not voting, but apparently the simple requirement—something like a seat belt law—does make most people go to the polls.
I don’t see any reason we couldn’t do that here and I hope some congressmen will consider such a law. I hardly see a down side to it and it would be so great to see tremendous numbers of people in our country going to vote every time there is an election.

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I wanted to say a few words about the recent death of a good friend from my days at the Slidell Sentry-News, the passing of former Managing Editor Phil White.
Phil died at the age of 89 after a great public career in Slidell that included years with the Sentry and Times Picayune newspapers, as well as an amazing career in theater that included winning the President’s Arts Award from the St. Tammany Commission on Cultural Affairs in 2011.
Phil became known publicly as he got involved with Slidell Little Theater, where he was involved in more than 50 plays. But he was probably best known for his depiction of Mark Twain, a part he played so well that few others could ever do it at that level.
One of the reasons Phil was so good playing Mark Twain is that he actually looked almost identical to Twain. With his acting ability Phil continually worked on his character to the point I really believe some people must have believed Mark Twain had come back to life when they saw Phil launch into action.
I got to know Phil when I was a sports editor at the Sentry and Phil was running the newsroom, a spot I later took over when Phil went on to bigger and better things. But the one thing I remember about him, and maybe the greatest compliment I could give him, is that Phil White struck me as one of the most gentle, friendliest people I ever met.
That is no exaggeration. In all the years we were the two editors there I don’t remember Phil ever raising his voice, much less ever blowing up at some reporter late on deadline. When I became the editor I learned how hard that was to do.
I’m sure the hundreds of people who knew Phil through the theater, the newspapers or his 22 years working for Boeing undoubtedly will remember him for much the same reason.
My condolences to the family.

Kevin Chiri can be reached by e-mail at kevinchiri@gmail.com.

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