As I write this, I hear the gentle drops of rain against the window. It’s supposed to rain most of the day today, winding down around 4 p.m. or 5 p.m., according to one of the morning shows.
A few seconds later, I hear the morning anchor mention that today is also the last day of early voting here in Shelby County. If you haven’t voted already, after today your next (and last) chance to cast your ballot in Shelby County primaries will be May 1, Election Day.
Then I did the math — or at least the stereotypical math. You know: “Black folks don’t like to go out in the rain” = “Even lower voter turnout than usual.”
Don’t be THAT voter. Don’t be the person who lets a few raindrops — by the way, they have umbrellas for that — stop you from casting your ballot. Don’t be the person who didn’t vote and then complains about what’s being done or not being done by county officials.
In the spirit of disclosure, I admit I won’t be voting in this election — my home address is still in Mississippi, where I’m still registered to vote (and did vote) in recent elections there. I think it was raining that day too.
I saw a startling statistic in last week’s print edition of The New Tri-State Defender. A chart put together by my colleague Brian Ramoly showed that voter turnout has been trending downward for decades in Memphis, and it tends to be at its lowest in municipal and county elections.
It would be funny if it weren’t sad: While it’s national politics and the latest shenanigans from the White House that get people all riled up to vote, the elections that most directly impact our lives — city and county elections — folks don’t show up.
Look, if some unexpected family situation keeps you away from the polls that’s one thing. If you have to work, try to get away on a lunch break, or make sure you get to the polls before they close at 7 p.m. And by all means, if you don’t get to cast your ballot early for any reason, make sure you’re at the polls on May 2.
But WHATEVER you do, DON’T BE THAT VOTER. Rain? Man, please.
Get to the polls. VOTE.