BRANDON FOUNTAIN: Elections: Made with 22 percent of real voters

It was Tuesday morning. Primary election day.

Moments after waking up, I pondered for a few seconds where the day would take me and how long it would be until I was going to return to my pillow.

I knew my night would be filled with keywords like “results,” “millages,” “turnout,” “precincts” and “deadline.”

After waking up my soon-to-be 14-year-old daughter, I told her I was going to go vote and then buy the necessary chocolate and white milk for her and my 7-year-old son.

“Why are you voting?” she asked as I reached for the door. “Is it the one with Donald Trump?”


“Then why are you voting?” she asked again.

I was able to catch myself from going into a patriotic, cliché-filled rant with “every vote counts” added in or a history lesson about women’s suffrage or the civil rights movement.

“I feel it’s important to vote,” I explained. “My ballot tells them who I want to represent me.”

“What if your candidate doesn’t win?” she inquired.

“Then they don’t win,” I said, shrugging. “It’s not always about winning.”

As profound as it may sound — it has taken me 18 years to figure that out.

If anyone wants to talk about “losing” on Election Day, there are two terms of George W. Bush as president in my loss column; one flailing gubernatorial term for Jennifer Granholm; and terms of state and national Democrat and Republican legislators who headed to Lansing or Washington with the best intentions but returned with only re-election campaign brochures.

On the other hand, there have been a multitude of school, township and county millages and renewals I’ve watched pass or fail on election night, with the naive optimism that those asking for tax dollars are doing so in an effort to improve the lives of everyone.

For me, it’s not about winning and losing. The sting of Bush’s 2004 re-election went away just as quickly as the joy of Barack Obama’s 2008 win. I still had to wake up and go to work the next day and the day after, and so on.

Our country is a democratic republic, essentially governed by those selected by the citizens. Therein lies the prophetic fact we all should have learned in high school government class: The democratic process doesn’t work if the people do not participate.

However, that fact is now in question.

Apparently, success in the democratic process is seeing 22.1 percent of Osceola County registered voters or  20.5 percent of Mecosta County voters cast ballots on Aug. 2.

The “It’s a primary election,” or “I’m too busy” excuses don’t work. Let’s call it what it is: laziness.

We’re talking about two to three minutes. It took longer for me waiting in line behind another voter inserting her ballot in the machine than it did to actually place two marks on my ballot. If heading to the precinct is too much, too far or too stressful, the answer is absentee ballots.

So, to the “I only vote when it matters” crowd, there is something important that needs to be said.

It’s always important. Every election is important.

Why should 22.1 percent of the people, or for that matter 20.5 percent, have the say for the rest of the residents?

When people don’t want to participate in the democratic process, we’re all losers in the end.