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Sherman Says: If you don’t register to vote, Oct. 12 is your last day to complain

BUFFALO — Friday, Oct. 12, is the last day you can complain about how government operates in your community, Erie County, New York state or Washington, D.C. That’s because it is the final day to register as a voter, prior to the Nov. 6 election.

The Erie County Board of Elections has streamlined the process, which is now even easier, if you have computer access. According to www.erieboe.com, there are 568,768 voters in the county, with registered Democrats’ having the clear majority. There are more women registered than men, overall. Also, men and women in the 30 – 55 age group make up 44.4 percent of eligible voters.

Surprisingly, only 2.3 percent of the total is found in the new crop of voters, those between the ages of 18 and 20. These would be the future leaders who were so strongly recruited during the 2008 presidential campaign. Four years later, their voice will be difficult to hear.

The numbers remain low among Erie County men and women ages 21 – 29, at barely 14 percent of the total. Is there that little interest in democracy in Erie County?

The U.S. census for 2010 pegged the registered voters in Erie County at approximately 725,220. About 156,000 of your friends, neighbors and coworkers are not registered to vote. That’s slightly more than the number of registered Republicans in the county. They could swing an election faster than you could say, “Dewey defeats Truman.”

Many people are totally turned off by politics in general, campaign advertising, endless television commercials and roadblocks to reform. Yet, as irritating as it all can be, involvement at the local level can have a significant impact on the big picture.

As if potential voters were not annoyed enough, there is now another reason to be on guard, according to the Better Business Bureau.

“Scammers are gearing up for this year’s presidential election, from robocalls offering a ‘free cruise’ for taking a political survey, to promises that President Obama will pay your bills. Better Business Bureau is advising voters to be on the lookout for the growing number of scams that are likely to continue leading up to the presidential election,” the agency said.

“Hot topics like health care, economic recovery and unemployment, are sure to be the alluring topics this election season, but it can be anything in the news that makes the pitch sound more realistic,” said Warren Clark, Better Business Bureau president.

How sad is it that Americans would not be motivated enough to vote without the shameless prodding of a huckster, driven by dirty dollars? That’s not the equal opportunity that the founding fathers had in mind when they crafted the Constitution.

That warning proved that some will become more politically astute only if something sweetens the deal. There are unscrupulous people who will pretend to promote democracy in the interest of ripping you off.

“If you’d like to contribute to a political campaign or party, locate contact information yourself, rather than giving out financial information to a caller. Requesting a callback number is no guarantee you will be connected with a legitimate campaign fundraising committee,” the BBB said. “Legitimate polling companies will never offer prizes for participating in a telephone survey, nor ask for a credit card number.”

There is only one prize citizens should expect for taking the time to vote: the pride of knowing that they have participated in a process that is still unavailable to millions of people around the world. The object is not to pick a winner, like at a horse race. The object is to stand up and be counted.

David Sherman is managing editor of Bee Group Newspapers and a columnist for the Weekly Independent Newspapers of Western New York. Opinions expressed here are those of the author. He can be reached at dsherman@beenews.com.
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