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That's an estimate of eligible voters who made their way to the polling booths in my town's most recent local election. 20%. That means that if that election had been a Shabbat morning minyan, 8 Jews turned over their most precious civic right and privilege to 2 people. The "good" news is that in a national election, the town might get 80% of eligible voters showing up. This is good news?

I learned this today when I picked up absentee ballot applications for my three children this afternoon. I've voted absentee in local elections - as frustrating as it was to watch my vote go up in glorious defeat once, it was very satisfying to know that my vote in a recent election might have been the one that made the difference.

But those percentages really bothered me, so I did some research.

Out of about 200 countries:
1. 23 have compulsory elections (the rest are considered "universal" or voluntary);
2. 2 have an upper age limit;
3. 4 countries do not allow members of the military or police to vote;
4. 1 country requires voters to be "literate;"
5. 1 country requires a 20-year citizenship.
6. 1 country does not permit women to vote; 1 country only started letting women vote in 2005; 1 country only allows women with an "elementary education" to vote.

People, I could go on and on about immigrants, slaves or women dying to get the vote in the United States. I could rant about countries where it is compulsory to vote - openly - for the single candidate (see: Russia, Egypt, etc.).

And you'd yawn and say, "yeah yeah there she goes again."

But come on, people - what will it take for US voting age citizen to get off their butts and get into the polling booths? How many of our rights will have to be taken away before we finally get it?

If you're not a registered voter - register now (this is the Connecticut registration application) - there is a deadline.

If you are a registered voter but need to vote absentee, get your application to receive a ballot NOW - there is a deadline for this, too, because the clerks need to send you a ballot in a timely manner so you can get your ballot in on time.

So I will say it: many of our grandparents and great grandparents would have died - literally - for the right to vote. So would all those men (and women) in countries with one candidate that you better vote for if you know what's good for you.

But you and I don't have to die for it ... just take a few minutes and make it happen.


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