If you are an avid newspaper reader like I am, you saw the names of about 170,000 of your closest friends listed on the pages of this newspaper earlier this week. In fact, it was a special section of people.
Nope, it was not a spectacular number of DWI arrests, thank goodness. And, nope it wasn’t a list of community heroes who are giving much-needed stuff to folks. That would have been nice. And, finally they weren’t the number of people qualifying for elections around the state — although, that might be a good thing.
Actually, the list was a collection of names of people who, according to the Secretary of State’s office, have not voted in a while, and can't be reached with a current address. There are some who have moved and haven’t sent in their new addresses. There are others who have really moved on to that great election booth in the sky.
But the bulk of those names are people who haven’t voted in quite some time. I really have a problem with them.
If you are African-American and have not voted, I really have a problem with you. You should vote every time the election booth opens because so many heroic and innocent people who look like you were beaten, shot, hung, burned alive, drowned and blown to pieces to give you a chance to do what other Americans had the unalienable right to do. You have absolutely no excuses not to vote. None. Don’t want to hear you.
I called the Secretary of State’s office to get some background because there were so many pages of people listed in the newspaper.
Louisiana has only a handful of cities with more than 170,000 residents. To get an idea of how many people that is, on a Saturday night in the fall, that number is the equivalent of Tiger Stadium, Southern University’s A.W. Mumford, Southeastern Louisiana University's Strawberry Stadium in Hammond and the University of Louisiana-Lafayette’s Cajun Field all at capacity.
To make light of the situation, but not really, I asked if some of the people on that list have suspicious names like Vladimir Wascom, or Svetlana Comeau, or Anastasia Sasha Romano or Steal-election Putin? We laughed. Given what we’ve been hearing the past year or so, you can’t be too careful.
The spokesperson assured me that total was not as bad as it looked. Some people just need to vote in the next federal election, and their address issue will be settled when they go to vote. In fact, you have to fail to vote in two consecutive federal elections to be purged.
I wonder how many of that 170,000 is probably in that boat.
It’s easy not to be on this list. Just vote every time there is an election, whether it’s local, state or national. It doesn’t take a long time. You might also have a friend that you can help get to the polls. What a fine thing for you to do.
My other issues that are not accounted for on this list are the people who have not registered to vote at all. Or those who have already been purged. What the hell is wrong with you? And, if you are one of the unregistered or too lazy to vote, just shut the hell up about your local, state and federal government officials.
Don’t complain about your bad roads, poor drainage or the horrendous decisions you believe your local and government leaders have made. You don’t vote; you don’t count.
For those who stayed home from the last national election, and who may be part of the 170,000 who are now whining about a major someone who lies and/or creates his own brand of the truth, I’ve got something for you.
You deserve to swallow whatever comes your way, and until you register and cast a ballot, you can do as the young folks say: “Go somewhere and sit down.”
Email Edward Pratt, a former newspaperman who writes a weekly Advocate column, at firstname.lastname@example.org.