Lines of voters once again stood patiently, waiting to vote in the Afghanistan runoff election over the weekend. At risk to life and limb, the citizens of that war-torn country demonstrated that they understand the importance of voting. Such regard for the ballot is something Americans have lost.
A primary election during a non-presidential year cannot compare to the first free election ever, such as is happening in Afghanistan, but even with the difference in scale, it is unsettling to see how little regard Americans have for the ballot. Just look at turnout numbers in New Mexico’s recent primary. Unofficial numbers from the Secretary of State’s Office showed only about 20 percent of registered Democrats and Republicans voted earlier this month, down from 28 percent in 2010. The number of votes cast went down, too, from 201,498 votes this year compared to 258,614 in 2010. That’s a drop of about 22 percent.