Journal Editorial: It wouldn’t happen here

It cannot have escaped anyone’s attention that voters in the US went to the polls last week to return Barack Obama to the White House for another four years.

Now that the celebrations have died down, one fact from the long and costly campaign and election was the response from the voters themselves.

In some states voters queued for up to four hours to cast their votes.

Even in the North, where politics permeates every aspect of life and society, such an occurrence would be unthinkable. No one would dream of standing in line to for an hour, let alone four hours, to exercise their democratic right here.

In recent years, at each election, voter turnout has fallen, indicating a general apathy and disconnection from the political process.

Anyone looking at the situation for outside would hardly believe that just over 40 years ago thousands of people took to the streets, often at great personal risk, to campaign for the right to vote.

In a society that has long political memories, it is surprising how quickly some things are forgotten.

However, the decline in the number of people engage in the political process by voting is not just the fault of the electorate. While the right to vote may have been hard won, people also have a democratic right not to vote.

It is up to those who are seeking election, and those already in power to actively engage with people, and not just at election time.

They must ensure that what they are doing is relevant if they want people to engage in the democratic process.