An election of choices
© Greg Nash

Millions of Americans have a choice to make this November.  Many will make the worst decision: they won’t vote.

According to the New York Times, just nine percent of America selected Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Trump scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn Seven years after Sandy Hook, the politics of guns has changed MORE and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMore than 200,000 Wisconsin voters will be removed from the rolls Trump is threatening to boycott the debates — here's how to make sure he shows up Trey Gowdy returns to Fox News as contributor MORE as the presidential nominees.  Most of the nation chose to stay home.

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This epidemic is nothing new.  In the 2012 elections, rural voter turnout dropped 18 percent.

Elections matter.  Votes matter.  Voters matter.  But the unjustifiable cycle of voter apathy continues.

This epidemic deprives communities of a robust and constructive process to select their political leaders.  And it’s a uniquely American problem. According to Pew, U.S. voter turnout trails most developed countries.

It’s easy to blame the epidemic on Americans who fail to show up.  It’s just as easy to blame partisan bickering, Congressional gridlock, and a lack of trust.  But none of that gets us any closer to solving the problem.

The most important check-and-balance our Founders envisioned was the people holding their government accountable.  

That’s why America’s electric cooperatives have launched Co-ops Vote, a non-partisan program to strengthen our ties with voters and elected officials in both parties.  Because the most important conversation is the one that occurs between them every time Americans go to the polls.

Rural America is more than a tourist destination to electric co-ops and our 42 million member-owners.  It’s home. 

Elections are about ideas. They’re about key issues where we work and live like:  Expanding broadband service and creating economic opportunities.  Ensuring continued access to safe, reliable and affordable electricity. And making our communities resilient against natural disasters. 

Civic engagement is a natural antidote to everything people despise about today’s politics: partisanship, money, gerrymandering, and more. All that’s required is engaging Americans in a conversation about issues, and encouraging them to wake up on Election Day to make their voice heard.

Jim MathesonJames (Jim) David MathesonTrump EPA eases standards for coal ash disposal Utah redistricting reform measure likely to qualify for ballot Trump's budget targets affordable, reliable power MORE is CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives. He previously served seven terms as a U.S. Representative from Utah.


The views expressed by authors are their own and not the views of The Hill.