ballotby Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter 5/2014

So before I go on my little rant here… A full disclosure so I’m not a hypocrite.

I didn’t vote last Monday.

Yep, the guy who moderated candidate’s night and is always reminding everyone what a privilege it is to be able to vote didn’t show up at the polls Monday May 5, 2014.

But I had a good excuse — I didn’t vote on Monday because Saturday, my car broke down with a bad case of shredded serpentine belt, broken water pump and wasn’t going anywhere. And my beloved’s car was also in repair. I was effectively grounded.

So that’s my excuse. Now, with my own confession out of the way, why didn’t YOU vote?

Yes, I am sure that many folks can’t vote because of work, family, health, or other obligations.

And we all know that people all over this land don’t vote because they feel their votes doesn’t make a difference or they don’t care. I don’t agree, but fair enough.

But almost eleven thousand registered voters in Foxboro, and 1671 show up at the polls Monday? Less than 15%? Seriously?

There was only one contested race this year, but it was arguably the most important – selectman.

I met both of the men running for the selectmen’s seat at candidates night, and both of them seem like great guys and both are certainly qualified for the job. I would like to say congratulations to Dave Feldman, and also thank you to Mark Sullivan for his service as selectmen. It was a tough choice this year – two good guys who ran a clean campaign and both well-suited to the job. Truth? I liked both of them for the job.

But I didn’t vote. And neither did most of you – almost 85%

What I fail to comprehend is why it takes a volatile issue like a dog park, or neighbor-against-neighbor battle over a casino to get people to come to the polls.

See, this happens EVERY year. Unless there’s a volatile issue, you’ll see the words “Low turnout” in the story after the election. And usually, only about 15% of us vote.

Historically, why is there so much voter apathy in this town?

There’s no apathy online; there’s no shortage of angry words and opinions on social media, where folks regularly vilify various elected officials as something a little worse than the Antichrist. It’s all “Impeach this one,” and “Did you see what this one said at the meeting?”

Conversely, online, there’s also a lot of good conversation and thoughtful insight.

But did these folks come out to vote? Judging by the numbers, I guess not.

Every week we read about the serious issues facing this town – what to do about town hall, a sewer system, train station expansion, relations with our neighbors on Route One, ensuring the safety of the children given the abuse that happened years ago… The list goes on and on. And on. And on. We’re a town of 17,000 and growing. I cannot imagine the pressure on our elected officials and boards to keep things running smoothly.

Imagine how they feel when so few people even bother to vote for them.

See, it BOTHERED me that I didn’t vote Monday. I should have called someone to give me a ride to the polls. That I didn’t – it BOTHERS me.

But to the 85% who didn’t vote this past week, why is that? And why is it pretty much 80-85% EVERY year?

I’m not going to preach, not going to offer my own philosophical solutions, not going into my usual “voting is a sacred privilege” thing, because obviously 85% of the registered voters don’t feel that way.

I’ll just say this: If you don’t vote, maybe it’s time to ask yourself WHY.

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