Online Voting: No more excuses.

Baltimore Rising in favor of online voting. Why? It’s simple. Because we believe in majority rule.

Let’s just focus on two recent Baltimore City primaries. We’ll talk about primaries because, in Baltimore City, Democrats so outnumber Republicans that the winners of the Democratic primary are almost always victorious in the general election.

The last Presidential primary was in 2012 when President Obama ran, unopposed, for re-election. If the office of President was the only position on the ballot, it would have been surprising that anyone showed up to vote.

As it turns out, Ben Cardin, one of our two US Senators, and all three of our Congressmen – Dutch Ruppersberger in the 2nd Congressional District, John Sarbanes in the 3rd and Elijah Cummings in the 7th ­– were running for re-election. And that was pretty much it.

Now, maybe you said to yourself, “The President is running unopposed and Congress is joke, so who cares? I’ve got better things to do.” And so you didn’t bother to vote. Okay, that’s your right.

It’s your right, but it comes at a price. The price is that, if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain and you certainly have no chance of replacing the current motley crew in Congress with fresh blood that might actually do something productive. So, the fact that only 47,861 voters out of the total 309,078 registered voters in Baltimore City showed up at the polls…? The fact that the people representing us in Washington were re-elected by a 15.5% minority with who knows what points of view? Well, that’s on you.

2011 was the last Mayoral primary. That’s when the current Mayor and all 14 members of the City Council were elected.

In 2011, there were 292,059 registered Democrats in the city of whom only 74,460 voted for any of the 6 Democratic candidates for Mayor. That’s a turnout of only 24.5%, better than in 2012, but that’s probably because Baltimore City officials are – in many respects – more important in our everyday lives that US Senators and Congressmen.

Still, a turnout of only 24.5% is pathetic. It’s minority rule. Those of you who didn’t vote are just going to have live with that – with letting the few determine the fate of the many because “the many” were either too busy or too lazy to vote or made the conscious decision that it, even if they did vote, it wouldn’t make any difference and would be a huge waste of their time.

And that 24.5%? It’s an overall percentage. According to a pollster who has the 2011 voter file, of the approximately 86,000 registered Democrats in the city who were 18 to 34 years old in 2011, only 10% of them showed up to vote. Only 10%. The other 90%? They left their futures in the hands of only 10% of their cohorts. Look around. Pick someone, a stranger, in your age group if you’re 18 to 34, who votes. What do you know about him or her? Do you really want him making decisions for you that are going to have serious impact on your life – or would you prefer to man-up or woman-up and make those decisions for yourself. At the polls. Next April.

“It doesn’t make difference whether or not I vote. These politicians are all a bunch of yahoos.” Really. Did it ever occur to you that you’re caught in a self-fulfilling prophecy? That it’s the minority that’s voting who are delivering those yahoos to public office, time and time again? That if you and the great majority that doesn’t vote actually showed up, we might have a more effective government?

Not to worry, we forgive you. Again, it’s your right not to vote but, just in case it’s the process that bothers, that you find voting too time consuming or otherwise inconvenient, Baltimore Rising is going to work to take that problem off the table.

What we’re going to do is introduce legislation and lobby for online voting. Using a secure app that our Board of Elections will give everyone for free, you’ll be able to vote anytime, any place on Election Day from your home or office computer, your tablet or smart phone. People without these devices will still be able to go to the polls. We just won’t need as many of them.

The technology already exists and it’s very inexpensive.

Online voting. We’re going to make it happen as soon as possible because we’re Baltimore Rising and we believe that the more people who vote, the more likely the outcome will be in everyone’s best interest. Because we believe that a higher turnout will elect more effective leaders and representatives from among a greater, more diverse population of prospective candidates. Because we believe in majority rule.

Whether or not you vote will still be up to you, but inconvenience will no longer be an excuse for not participating.

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